U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement, announced on Wednesday, could put some of his signature rulings in jeopardy, including ones that expanded or preserved gay rights and abortion rights.
Kennedy is a conservative, but he joined the court’s four liberals to cast deciding votes on several key social issues, most notably on gay marriage.
His successor will be picked by President Donald Trump from a White House list of 25 names recommended by conservative legal activists, and the new justice is likely to take a less liberal tack than Kennedy did on at least some issues. If so, he or she will provide a fifth vote for the court’s conservatives rather than its liberals - and over time reshape the U.S. legal landscape.
“It’s extremely likely President Trump is going to appoint someone who is not going to follow Justice Kennedy’s lead in those cases and will go even further in undermining constitutional rights and degrading the rule of law,” said Elizabeth Wydra, president of the liberal leaning Constitutional Accountability Center.