U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, 81, announced June 27 that he is retiring after more than three decades on the court.
Kennedy is the court's longest-serving member and second-oldest justice after its leading liberal, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is 85. He is submitting a formal notification of his decision, effective July 31, to President Trump.
This announcement means that Trump will be able to add yet another conservative to this court. Last year, Republicans changed U.S. Senate rules to get Trump's nominee for Scalia's seat, Neil Gorsuch, confirmed. ( Gorsuch replaced Antonin Scalia, who passed away. )
Previously, Republicans refused to hold a confirmation hearing or vote on Merrick Garland, President Obama's nominee to replace Scalia.
In a statement, Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur said, "As the architect of four landmark LGBTQ civil rights decisionsRomer, Lawrence, Windsor, and Obergefellthat guaranteed our community the equal dignity we all deserve, Justice Kennedy played a historic role on the Supreme Court.
"The stakes for the next nomination are too high for our community to sit back and let the White House ram through another anti-LGBTQ extremist. It is incumbent upon all of us to ensure Justice Kennedy's replacement is willing to stand up to the Trump-Pence Administration and protect our civil rights."
Windy City Times
Lambda Legal on the Retirement of Justice Kennedy:
(Washington, DC, June 27, 2018) Today, Rachel B. Tiven, Chief Executive Officer of Lambda Legal, issued the following statement in response to the retirement of Anthony Kennedy, senior Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States:
"After decades of leadership on the court for LGBT rights, in the final hour of his 30-year tenure on the bench, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy heralded in a Muslim ban and left open the question of whether the far right has a license to discriminate against the LGBT community and other marginalized groups.
"We are shocked and saddened that a justice who was once the defender of dignity for LGBT people and our families on the court would chose this moment to hang up his robe and give the Trump administration the opportunity to further derail anti-discrimination laws and undermine the rule of law.
"For the last few years, Lambda Legal has been leading the fight to protect the courts from Trump's onslaught of anti-LGBT judges. We have watched as the White House embraced every nominee approved by the Heritage Foundation in their plan to undue Obama-era protections and weaken laws that protect the rights of every American, not just the wealthy and the powerful.
"The American people deserve to have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, not a single nominee by the Trump administration should get a hearing or a vote until after the November 2018 mid-term elections. Given everything happening in this country, and the fact that this President has worked to push through his own hateful agenda, the American people have a right to be heard before this critical decision.
"We cannot allow 40 more years of Trump's values on the Supreme Court. Attempts by President Trump and Vice President Pence to use a new court vacancy as a way to deprive us of our dignity, to demean our community, or to diminish our status as equal citizens will be met with a chorus of opposition from civil rights leaders across the country. We have already seen the damage that has been done by the confirmation of Justice Gorsuch to the highest court in the land. We will not roll over and acquiesce to yet another attempt by this administration to tarnish the Supreme Court one of our most revered institutions with another nominee who shares their distorted view of the law."
HRC on SCOTUS: With our Most Fundamental Rights on the Line, the American People Should Decide at the Ballot Box this Fall
WASHINGTON — Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, called on the Senate not to consider the next Supreme Court nominee until after the American people vote in the midterm elections this November. Donald Trump has signaled his intention to nominate Supreme Court justices who would undermine significant progress — from health care to LGBTQ equality to the Constitutional right to safe, legal abortion. HRC calls on Senate Leadership to allow the American people to decide at the ballot box whether they want a nominee who will undermine their fundamental rights and freedoms — or one who will protect them.
"Justice Kennedy's retirement should serve as a wakeup call for every pro-equality voter in America," said HRC President Chad Griffin. "Trump wants a Supreme Court nominee who will undermine progress we've made on affordable health care, LGBTQ equality, Roe and more. The American people don't — and they should have an opportunity to say so at the ballot box in November. The 2018 midterm elections just became the most consequential elections of our lifetime. We must keep organizing, mobilizing, and holding lawmakers to account every single day — and then we need turn out like never before this November."
The Human Rights Campaign believes judicial nominees should:
Demonstrate commitment to full equality under law for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Americans; individuals living with HIV and AIDS; women; people with disabilities; and racial, ethnic and religious minorities;
Demonstrate commitment to the constitutional right to privacy and individual liberty, including the right of two consenting adults to enter into consensual intimate relationships;
Respect the constitutional authority of Congress to promote equality and civil rights and provide statutory remedies for discrimination and violence;
Demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of and commitment to the separation of church and state and the protection of those citizens with minority religious views;
Respect state legislatures' attempts to address discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, race, color, national origin, religion and other factors through carefully crafted legislation that meets the requirements of the Constitution.
Over 30 years on the Supreme Court, Justice Kennedy cast countless tie-breaking votes on major decisions, and authored the majority opinion in the four most influential cases affecting LGBTQ people in the past three decades:
Romer v. Evans, finding that bare animus cannot be a justification to pass measures that discriminate against LGBTQ people;
Lawrence v. Texas, finding laws that criminalize intimate relationships between same-sex couples to be unconstitutional;
US v. Windsor, finding that the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibited legally married same-sex couples from being recognized as married by the federal government, to be unconstitutional; and
Obergefell v. Hodges, finding that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry regardless of where they live in the United States.
As this process moves forward, HRC will work in coalition with civil rights groups across movements to advocate for the appointment of a fair-minded Constitutionalist to the nation's highest court.
The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.