SCOTUS Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement set off immediate reactions from both sides of the aisle on the impact of the upcoming debate to replace a justice who has traditionally been the swing vote on the bench.
How is this likely to impact the ideological makeup of the court?
Kennedy’s retirement could have a profound effect on the law, replacing the Court’s swing Justice — who in recent years was a reliable vote with the liberals on a number of social issues — with a solid conservative.
How might abortion law be impacted?
One major area in which we could see a transformational effect on the law is abortion. Justice Kennedy had a complicated relationship to abortion. He surprised Court-watchers in 1992, in a case that many people thought spelled the end for Roe v. Wade. In that case, he joined with fellow Republican Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and David Souter to reaffirm Roe’s core holding.
But then in 2007, Kennedy joined the conservatives in upholding a federal law prohibiting so-called “partial-birth abortion.” Then in 2016 he joined the liberals in a strong opinion striking down a restrictive Texas abortion law and again reaffirming Roe.
And how might gay rights law be impacted?
Gay rights are another area in which Justice Kennedy leaves a massive legacy. He’s the author of four hugely important cases on gay rights – beginning in 1996, moving onto a landmark 2003 decision striking down state statutes that criminalized sex between adults of the same sex and culminating in the 2015 decision declaring marriage equality the law of the land.
What about cases dealing with the death penalty?
The death penalty is another area in which Justice Kennedy sometimes voted against traditionally conservative positions.
For more: ABC News