Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced on Wednesday that he will retire from the bench effective July 31. This will provide President Donald Trump the chance to nominate a second justice to the high court, having already seen his success with Justice Neil Gorsuch last year. Moments after the announcement was made, Trump told the media that he has “immediately” begun the process of selecting Kennedy’s replacement on the court.

Trump met with Kennedy on Wednesday afternoon to discuss potential replacements. The president said, “There are certain names that are just outstanding, names that you already know, to be honest with you.” Among the candidates is Sen. Mike Lee, a Utah Republican.

 

After the announcement, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the floor, “Our Republican colleagues in the Senate should follow the rule they set in 2016, not to consider a Supreme Court justice in an election year. Senator McConnell would tell anyone who would listen that the Senate had the right to advise and consent and that was every bit as important as the president’s right to nominate.” Schumer said  “Millions of people are just months from determining the senators who will vote to reject or confirm the president’s nominee, and their voices deserve to be heard now as leader McConnell believed they deserved to be heard then. Anything but that would be the absolute height of hypocrisy.”

At the end of the Obama administration, the Republican-controlled Senate refused to consider Barack Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court. Their refusal caused an unprecedented 14-month vacancy on the Supreme Court. As Schumer pointed out, Senate Majoriy Leader Mitch McConnell and his fellow Republicans argued then that confirming Garland before an election would deprive the electorate of an opportunity to shape the Court. However, it is not clear how Democrats can block a vote on Kennedy's successor if the Republicans force the issue in the fall. The GOP holds a 51-vote majority in the Senate, which is enough to confirm Trump's nominee due to last April's rule change that lowered the nomination threshold from 60 votes to a simple majority.

In November, the White House published a list of 25 candidates for the Supreme Court. Gorsuch was drawn from a similar list. .

Here are the candidates:

Amy Coney Barrett of Indiana, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit
Keith Blackwell of Georgia, Supreme Court of Georgia
Charles Canady of Florida, Supreme Court of Florida
Steven Colloton of Iowa, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit
Allison Eid of Colorado, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit
Britt Grant of Georgia, Supreme Court of Georgia
Raymond Gruender of Missouri, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit
Thomas Hardiman of Pennsylvania, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit
Brett Kavanaugh of Maryland, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
Raymond Kethledge of Michigan, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit
Joan Larsen of Michigan, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit
Mike Lee of Utah, United States Senator
Thomas Lee of Utah, Supreme Court of Utah
Edward Mansfield of Iowa, Supreme Court of Iowa
Federico Moreno of Florida, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida
Kevin Newsom of Alabama, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit
William Pryor of Alabama, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit
Margaret Ryan of Virginia, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces
David Stras of Minnesota, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit
Diane Sykes of Wisconsin, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit
Amul Thapar of Kentucky, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit
Timothy Tymkovich of Colorado, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit
Robert Young of Michigan, Supreme Court of Michigan (Ret.)
Don Willett of Texas, Supreme Court of Texas
Patrick Wyrick of Oklahoma, Supreme Court of Oklahoma
 

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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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