Featured Image
Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 27, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Justice Anthony Kennedy announced Wednesday that he is retiring from the United States Supreme Court, confirming months of speculation and clearing the way for President Donald Trump to appoint his second judge to the critical body.

Kennedy confirmed his resignation in a brief letter to the president. “For a member of the legal profession it is the highest of honors to serve on this Court,” Kennedy wrote. “Please permit me by this letter to express my profound gratitude for having had the privilege to seek in each case how best to know, interpret, and defend the Constitution and the laws that must always conform to its mandates and promises.”

Originally appointed by Republican President Ronald Reagan, Kennedy has been a notorious swing vote on the court. He has cast multiple votes both protecting legal abortion and affirming the homosexual agenda, though he has also signaled openness to some abortion restrictions. Most recently he ruled in favor of pro-life pregnancy centers’ free speech rights in California, and against religious hostility displayed by Colorado officials attempting to force Christian baker Jack Phillips to create a cake for a same-sex “wedding.”

Despite Kennedy’s jurisprudence occasionally yielding outcomes favorable to pro-life and pro-family advocates, they ultimately faulted him for an “incoherent” legal philosophy at odds with the Constitution.

“In the 1992 Casey decision upholding Roe v. Wade, he waxed poetic about ‘the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of life,’” National Review editor Rich Lowry wrote in 2008. “In the 2007 Carhart decision upholding the partial-birth abortion ban, he waxed again, this time about ‘respect for human life find[ing] an ultimate expression in the bond of love the mother has for her child.’”

“Evidently, Kennedy goes about his job unburdened by the fact that his views on existence or on the mother-child bond have nothing whatsoever to do with the Constitution,” Lowry continued. “But so it goes, as long as the Supreme Court is divided between four liberals, four conservatives and one self-important man who can’t differentiate between his inner compass and the nation’s fundamental law.”

In Kennedy’s view government officials with religious objections to facilitating same-sex unions “ought to quit, because the system tells you that you can never change the system; instead, you ought to vanish and shy away from confronting evil,” Professor Robert Oscar Lopez of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary wrote. “Yet this is the same man who wrote, in his Obergefell decision, that […] same-sex couples deserve custody of other people’s offspring, because the system that denies gays these things—which some might call ‘the natural world’—is unfair and must be changed.”

“In the 2016 case of Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, Kennedy showed beyond a doubt that he can be counted on to defend the abortion industry against laws to protect mothers and unborn children from abortion,” Texas Alliance for Life’s Christopher Maska wrote. “Kennedy joined the 5-3 majority that gutted key pro-life safety provisions of HB 2. Just like in Casey, if Kennedy had changed his vote in Hellerstedt, the pro-life cause would have prevailed.”

Kennedy’s retirement is certain to intensify an already heated midterm election season this fall, as it provides President Trump the opportunity to appoint a second justice to the Supreme Court. His first justice, Neil Gorsuch, has not yet ruled on abortion’s legality but is generally embraced by pro-life advocates.

Trump, speaking to reporters Wednesday, called Kennedy a “great justice,” adding that he displayed “tremendous vision and heart.” The search for Kennedy's successor will start “immediately,” he said. 

Replacing Kennedy with a pro-life, originalist judge could give the Supreme Court its first pro-life majority since before 1973, potentially enabling Roe v. Wade to finally be overturned in one of several battles over pro-life state laws currently winding through the legal system.

Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List) president Marjorie Dannenfelser said that Kennedy's retirement marks a pivotal moment for the pro-life movement.

“Justice Kennedy’s retirement from the Supreme Court marks a pivotal moment for the fight to ensure every unborn child is welcomed and protected under the law,” she said.

“The most important commitment that President Trump has made to the pro-life movement has been his promise to nominate only pro-life judges to the Supreme Court, a commitment he honored by swiftly nominating Judge Neil Gorsuch. SBA List was proud to take the lead in rallying pro-life grassroots support for Gorsuch, and we were thrilled to see those efforts come to fruition as Justice Gorsuch took his place on the Supreme Court,” she added.  

Penny Nance, CEO & President of Concerned Women for America, echoed Dannenfelser, saying that now is the moment conservative women have been waiting for. 

“This is the moment conservative women have been waiting for — the chance to return justice and constitutional limits to the nation’s highest court. This is the reason why they voted overwhelmingly for Donald J. Trump over Hillary Clinton,” she said. 

“We want a Supreme Court that rejects the subjective 'living, breathing' constitutional philosophy which judicial activist have used to force liberal political policies on the country under the guise of law. It is time for a Supreme Court that returns power to 'We the People.'”

Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund (TPPCF) Chairman Jenny Beth Martin said that Trump came through on Neil Gorsuch and will not disappoint in the upcoming appointment. 

“President Trump has done it once, and he will do it again by appointing another great justice to the high court. Each of the people on the President’s list of potential Supreme Court nominees is highly qualified, with a record of fairly applying the law and adhering to the Constitution as it was originally written and ratified,” he said. 

“The American people have made clear their preference for judges who apply the law, rather than making up new law from the bench. This is an historic moment for President Trump and the Senate to work together to put another great justice on the bench,” he added.