Former federal judge: New Supreme Court appointment could impact abortion

Richard Lazarus

Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his resignation Wednesday, opening the way for Donald Trump to fill a second Supreme Court seat.

Headlines this week were dominated by news that Justice Anthony Kennedy, a swing vote on the Supreme Court, will retire next month and that a man has been charged with killing five people at the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis.

At the same time, supporting Trump's nominee could bring its own political peril for Democrats - and the two Republicans - whose votes could be seen as the ones that could tip the 4-4 split on the court after Kennedy's departure toward conservatives for a generation to come. The future of Kennedy's seat has been a moment abortion rights opponents and supporters alike have been anticipating for years because Kennedy historically sided with the liberals on the court in favor of protecting abortion rights.

He said Democratic senators running for reelection in conservative states, like West Virginia and in, face a "lose-lose" scenario: risk angering their base voters by supporting Trump's pick, or vote no and harm their chances among the Republicans and moderates they still need to win. We have to pick one that's going to be there for 40 years, 45 years.

They are also the only two Republican women who support abortion rights - with some caveats - and they could ultimately be the deciding votes on the Supreme Court nomination if all 49 members of the Senate Democratic caucus (including two independents) band together and oppose the nominee as a unified block.

Heitkamp said the president should think about a nominee who could unite, rather than divide, the country.

"We have to pick a great one".

Trump's list was assembled with the input of conservative legal activists who also touted Gorsuch for the previous court vacancy.

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That spring, McConnell repeatedly cited a nonexistent Senate "tradition" of not considering Supreme Court nominees during a president's a year ago in office.

Kennedy disappointed conservatives by joining Supreme Court decisions that affirmed the Roe decision, including a 1992 ruling in the case Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

Over the past year, state legislatures in Iowa, Louisiana and MS have advanced strict limits on abortion that some lawmakers believe could trigger a successful challenge to the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide. The move could also mean that conservative Chief Justice John Roberts, as the most centrist of the court's current conservatives, would become the decisive vote in certain cases. The 53-year-old appeals court judge is a former clerk for Kennedy.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., a potential presidential candidate in 2020 said, "President Trump has told you he's going to nominate someone who will get rid of Roe v. Wade". Trump asked Manchin. "I said Mr. President, that's your choice".

The Center for Reproductive Rights points out that in recent years, the Supreme Court has declined to review a number of lower court decisions striking down abortion bans prior to the point of viability. A final decision, he said, will be announced July 9.

Trump won West Virginia by 42 percentage points in the 2016 election, North Dakota by 36 percentage points and in by more than 19 percentage points. On Wednesday, he joined his fellow conservatives in a ruling that dealt a major setback to organized labor by shutting off a key union revenue source.

"We should be able to work our way through the confirmation process sometime before early fall", McConnell told Fox News Thursday.

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