The 81-year-old jurist announced Wednesday that he would be retiring at the end of July, after 30 years on the court. His departure gives President Donald Trump the opportunity to nominate a second more solidly conservative Supreme Court justice in one term, further cementing the bench’s rightward leanings and shaping the court for decades.
Key issues are at stake, namely the security of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court case that secured women’s constitutional right to abortion, with certain limitations, as a right to privacy.
Democrats called on Republicans to refrain from nominating a replacement for Kennedy, known as a swing vote on some issues, so close to the midterm elections. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Trump indicated they would move quickly on a nominee.