On Wednesday, 27 June, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement effective on 31 July 2018. The Supreme Court is the highest court in the United States—its judgements set precedence. President Donald Trump will initiate a selection process to appoint a new judge “from a list of 25 conservative candidates”. All Supreme Court justices are appointed for life. This is the second time for Donald Trump to appoint a Supreme Court justice after nominating a conservative, Neil Gorsuch, last year.
Anthony Kennedy, appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1988, has earned himself the reputation of being a “pivotal” magistrate over the years. Indeed, despite being a conservative, he has adopted a liberal stance on several occasions regarding budgetary policy and social issues, supporting abortion advocates and gay rights, in particular. His opinion has therefore had a crucial impact on Supreme Court decisions (see United States: Supreme Court rejects Texan law limiting abortion, The American Supreme Court is divided on the financing of contraception).
In the current American context, the opinions of the incoming judge will inevitably influence legislative changes, especially in the areas of abortion, contraception and gay rights, etc. According to Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, this is “the most important Supreme Court vacancy for this country in at least a generation”.