Justice Kennedy’s Retirement and the Future of Roe

As if this week’s elections were not enough for political intrigue, on Wednesday Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement for the U.S. Supreme Court. This eventuality had been rumored for more than a year. His departure sets up a cataclysmic battle in the U.S. Senate over the confirmation of President Trump’s nominee, which has the potential to reshape the Court for years to come.

Justice Kennedy has been the swing vote in numerous landmark decisions, several of which were announced this week alone. Most notable is the question over the future of Roe v. Wade, which promises to be challenged by several cases pending in Circuit courts around the country.

Should the president nominate and the Senate confirm a pro-life justice, the Court may hand down decisions in the future that take the legs from under the Roe and Casey decisions, which have effectively been the law of the land for a generation. An intriguing blog at Slate — not a friend of the pro-life cause — is already predicting the end of Roe.

Sen. Lankford weighed in on the pending debate in the Senate:

“I would like to thank Justice Anthony Kennedy for his 43 years on the federal bench. During his time on the Court, Justice Kennedy has served with honor and dignity. Even those who disagree with his decisions cannot question his dedication to the rule of law, the country, and the Supreme Court. The Senate will now perform its Constitutional responsibility of ‘advice and consent’ and evaluate a nominee from the President for this vacancy. It is very important for the Senate to confirm a nominee who is committed to the original meaning of the Constitution and understands the high Court’s role as an independent branch of the federal government. The recent Supreme Court rulings have demonstrated just how important this principle is. I look forward to the President’s nominee coming before the Senate in the next few months, and confirming a qualified nominee to the bench this Fall.”