Earlier this week, a frenzy was sparked in Washington DC over multiple rumors that Justice Anthony Kennedy may be throwing in the towel and possibly retiring from the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) sometime in the near future.
If the rumors, which come as the court nears the end of its current session, turn out to be true, then President Donald Trump would almost certainly replace Justice Kennedy, who has been the swing vote in numerous cases, with a ninth member who will promise to consistently exercise judicial restraint, like Justice Neil Gorsuch, who recently replaced the late Justice Antonin Scalia. This would, without a doubt, leave countless democrats utterly outraged due to the fact that they practically begged the 81-year-old judge to retire while former President Barack Obama was still in office.
According to some, like Ian Samuel, a lecturer on law at Harvard Law School and member of the Climenko Fellowship who worked as a clerk for Justice Scalia, the Justice’s retirement is likely imminent because the court has only agreed to hear fifteen cases so far for the next term.
“One possibility is they are not granting cases because they don’t know who their ninth member is going to be,” reasoned Samuel.
“You could imagine Kennedy telling the chief, ‘I’d like to keep this between us, but I’d like to retire,’ and the chief saying, ‘let’s see who Kennedy’s replacement is before we grant all these cases,’” he clarified.
Others believe Kennedy may be close to retiring because his wife, Mary Davis, was present at the final oral arguments of the term. However, Mark Walsh, a writer for SCOTUSblog, noted that the wives of three other judges were there as well, which suggests that her presence may not have been that significant.
The rumors of Kenney’s possible retirement were also fueled by some republican lawmakers in Congress. Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), for instance, told reporters that he was convinced “Kennedy will retire sometime around early summer.”
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) added, “I hope it’s now or within two or three weeks, because we’ve got to get this done before the election. If you’re thinking about quitting this year, do it yesterday.”
However, some people are not convinced that Kennedy is on his way out. “I don’t think he would have hired all four clerks for next year if he was seriously entertaining stepping down,” explained Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law in Richmond, Virginia, while speaking to reporters about the matter. “I just don’t think it’s going to happen,” added the university professor.
Rumors of a possible SCOTUS vacancy also sparked a frenzy last year when Sen. Grassley, a well-known critic of Obama, said he expected a “resignation over the summer” during a speaking event. Although none of the justices ended up resigning, it may be the case that their decision to step down was just delayed until later this year.
When asked about who the new justice may be, Grassley replied, “I don’t know about racial and ethnic divisions, but there’s some very good females on there that would make good Supreme Court Justices as well.” Sadly, though, the representative of the legislative branch did not provide the public with any other additional details about who is being considered.
Kennedy is not the only judge who may retire while President Trump is still in office. It’s likely that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg may also retire due to the fact that she is the oldest person on the court.
In addition to her age, Justice Ginsburg has also repeatedly shown that she isn’t fit to serve as a judge anymore. For example, several months ago, while speaking to Charlie Rose during an event at a Columbia University Women’s Conference, she claimed she has “no doubt” that sexism played a role in Hillary Clinton’s defeat in the 2016 presidential election. To justify her claim, she asserted that a male candidate would have been treated much differently.
Specifically, when asked by Rose about sexism in the 2016 election during the event, Ginsburg replied, “I have no doubt that it did.” Upon hearing this, Rose pressed her about whether or not she thought it played a “decisive” role.
In response, she said, “there [are] so many things that might have been decisive, but that was a major, major factor.”
In an attempt to clarify, she added, “I think it was difficult for Hillary Clinton to get by even the macho atmosphere prevailing during that campaign, and she was criticized in a way I think no man would have been criticized. I think anyone who watched that campaign unfold would answer it the same way I did: Yes, sexism played a prominent part.”
Clearly, her reasoning is utterly absurd. For starters, there is no reason to think that a male democratic candidate with Clinton’s same baggage would have done any differently. Those who refused to support Clinton did so not because she was female, but because she has an extremely questionable past and they opposed all of the terrible policies she supported.
In addition to being utterly absurd, her reasoning is also absolutely reprehensible because by blaming Clinton’s loss on sexism, she’s essentially calling countless Trump supporters sexist, which could not be further from the actual truth.
On top of that, Ginsburg’s comment is also problematic because it showed at the time that she’s either pushing a partisan agenda or cannot figure out why the democrats actually lost the election. Whatever the case may be, it is clear she should not be deciding legal matters in the highest court in the land.
Hopefully, the rumors about Kennedy’s retirement end up turning out to be true so that President Trump can put another justice in the Supreme Court who will work to ensure that the court acts with judicial restraint when deciding cases, which is what he did with Justice Gorsuch. Maybe even two.