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WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) – The biggest announcement from the Supreme Court this week did not have to do with the travel ban or unions, instead it was the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy.
President Donald Trump plans on filling the vacancy as soon as possible, but Democrats will try to take a page out of the Republican playbook and delay the appointment.
Kennedy’s retirement has given President Trump an opportunity to reshape the nation’s highest court.
“We have to pick a great one. We have to pick one that’s going to be there for 40 years, 45 years,” Trump said on Wednesday at the White House.
The vacancy gives the President a chance to turn the court more solidly conservative. At a rally in North Dakota on Wednesday night, Trump said he was honored the 81-year-old chose to retire while he’s in office.
“He felt confident in me to make the right choice and carry on his great legacy,” he told the crowd of supporters.
Nominated by President Ronald Reagan in 1987, Kennedy was the key swing vote in decisive 5-to-4 rulings. He sided with conservatives on gun rights and Citizens United, and with liberals on gay marriage and Roe v. Wade.
“We will vote to confirm Justice Kennedy’s successor this fall,” said Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday.
Senate Republicans successfully blocked President Barack Obama’s nominee for an open seat before the 2016 election. Democrats say this appointment should wait until after the midterms.
“Anything but that would be the height of hypocrisy,” said Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer.
The Senate confirmation of Kennedy’s replacement could hinge on Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, two Republicans who support abortion rights.
“I view Roe v. Wade as being settled law,” said Collins, R-ME.
The President said he will nominate Kennedy’s successor from a list of about two dozen people.
Kennedy’s retirement takes effect July 31st.