Justice Anthony Kennedy is a conservative had an incredible impact in crucial votes for contentious issues like same-sex marriage, abortion and wiretapping. With the 81-year old justice announcing his retirement, many are now looking ahead at what the Supreme Court would be like without him.
Kennedy has sent a formal notice of resignation, effective July 31 this year, to President Donald Trump.
While Kennedy has often voted in favor of conservative arguments, liberals have nonetheless pinned their hopes on him after the justice has provided key swing votes in several issues, including the 2015 5–4 ruling that legalized same-sex marriage and another close vote that prevented states from banning abortions, as Vox recapped his unique career.
He may have voted for same-sex marriage, but he also authored the 7–2 court decision favoring Masterpiece Cakeshop and Jack Phillips, who refused to make a cake to celebrate a couple's wedding out of a religious objection to same-sex marriage.
Kennedy has also been the longest-serving member of the Supreme Court of the U.S., and with his retirement comes an opportunity for Trump to shape the high court for the decades to come.
Trump is now expected to nominate a justice, likely a younger jurist with staunch conservative leanings to create a voting majority for conservative issues, one that will stand for a very long time.
"He's been a great justice of the Supreme Court," Trump said, commending him for his career. "He is a man who's displayed great vision, he's displayed tremendous vision," Trump added. The President has also met with Kennedy just before the latter announced his retirement.
"I asked him if he had certain people he had great respect for that could potentially take his seat," Trump said about the meeting with the outgoing justice.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell later said that they will be voting to confirm Kennedy's replacement later this fall, according to CNN.