Early Thursday morning, after handing conservatives some hard-fought victories, Justice Anthony Kennedy sent further shockwaves through our political landscape by formally announcing his plans to retire from service as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States.
Effective July 31st of this year, Justice Kennedy will vacate his seat on our nation’s highest Court. It will then be incumbent upon President Donald J. Trump to nominate and the U.S. Senate to confirm his replacement.
“This is a HUGE win for the pro-life movement, but we can’t let up the fight! If Roe was overturned tomorrow, we’d have a nation in shambles from the death that’s been seeped over the head of our nation for 45 years. We must simultaneously fight to mold our culture into one that affirms life,” Human Defense Initiative founder, Devin Sena stated.
Justice Kennedy was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 and according to CNN, is “a conservative who provided key votes for same sex-marriage, abortion access and affirmative action,” often with his vote being the deciding vote in a number of socially-liberal decisions. Most notably, Justice Kennedy authored the 5-4 majority opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges which legalized same-sex marriage in all fifty states.
President Trump promised on the campaign trail to appoint Supreme Court justices to overturn Roe v. Wade, and abortion advocates have not forgotten. Indeed, President Trump has so far made good on his promise to appoint conservative justices with his nomination and the Senate’s timely appointment of Neil Gorsuch who has proven to be a conservative of the same spirit of the late Antonin Scalia.
Kennedy’s plan to retire before November midterm elections puts President Trump in a good position to get a confirmation from the Republican-run Senate. Abortion advocates are understandably nervous.
NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue issued the following statement:
“Today, Justice Kennedy announced his retirement, and because President Trump will nominate the next Supreme Court Justice, a woman’s constitutional right to access legal abortion is in dire, immediate danger—along with the fundamental rights of all Americans. We also know that for decades, a multi-million-dollar, extreme, anti-choice movement has quietly and aggressively chipped away at that right in state legislatures, in lower courts, and now from within the Trump administration. Their stated goal, clearly and loudly, is overturning Roe v. Wade.”
Tuesday, following the Supreme Court’s decision in NIFLA v. Becerra, Ms. Hogue quote retweeted the Human Defense Initiative:
I appreciate when they are honest about their goals. I am not afraid because there are so many more people who believe that women should be in control of our decisions and not ideological zealots and politicians who know nothing about our lives. #prochoicemajority #orgainze https://t.co/soypJcBpcW— ilyse hogue (@ilyseh) June 26, 2018
In an article for Marie Claire, the President of NARAL stated unequivocally:
“We are now, without doubt, one Trump-nominated justice away from a Court that overturns Roe v. Wade. In a one-two gut punch to the reproductive rights community, Justice Anthony Kennedy—the swing vote in numerous cases throughout his 30 years on the bench—today announced his retirement, which means the vicious anti-woman activists are getting their vote. They say explicitly that overturning Roe is their ultimate goal, and after yesterday’s decision and today’s announcement, they’re more optimistic than ever.”
We are indeed optimistic.
According to Guttmacher Institute, “The current make up of the U.S. Supreme Court have led some state policymakers to consider the possibility that Roe v. Wade could be overturned and regulation of abortion returned to the states. Some state legislatures are considering banning abortion under all or virtually all circumstances; these measures are widely viewed as an attempt to provoke a legal challenge to Roe, while other states are considering abortion bans that would go into effect in the event that Roe is overturned. And a number of states still have pre-1973 abortion bans on the books—several of which, in theory, could be enforced if Roe were ever overturned. Still other states have laws declaring the state’s intent to ban abortion to the extent permitted by the U.S. Constitution.”
Sadie-Megin is an attorney. She earned her JD from Trinity Law School in May 2019 and was admitted to the State Bar of California in January 2020.