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Posted: April 20, 2017

Is Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy getting ready to resign?

President Donald Trump, left, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, center, and Justice Neil Gorsuch participate in a public swearing-in ceremony for Gorsuch in the Rose Garden of the White House White House in Washington, Monday, April 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Carolyn Kaster/AP
President Donald Trump, left, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, center, and Justice Neil Gorsuch participate in a public swearing-in ceremony for Gorsuch in the Rose Garden of the White House White House in Washington, Monday, April 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

By Debbie Lord, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, (R-Iowa), told an Iowa newspaper that he expects a Supreme Court justice will resign this year, opening up a seat that President Donald Trump will be able to nominate someone to fill. 

Grassley refused to name the justice he believes will resign but told the Muscatine Journal that he had heard rumors that a resignation is coming by summer. 

"I would expect a resignation this summer," Grassley said during a Q&A session with the newspaper.

While Grassley did not name the justice he believes will submit his or her resignation, others said Justice Anthony Kennedy has been quietly telling friends and colleagues that he intends to resign his seat this summer. 

Kennedy, 80, has talked with former law clerks and others about retirement, according to a story by CNN. The New York Times has reported that the Trump administration is already looking at its next nominee should Kennedy decide to leave the Court.

Bloomberg News reported last week that “Kennedy has given no public indication of his plans, but he has drawn attention with a handful of semiprivate scheduling decisions. Perhaps most significantly, his next law clerk reunion will take place during the last weekend of June, offering the possibility that he will spring a piece of news on the gathering. The timing is noteworthy because previous Kennedy reunions took place every five years, and this one comes four years after the 2013 event.”

Greg Stohr, Bloomberg News Supreme Court reporter and co-host of Bloomberg Radio’s "Bloomberg Law," offered both sides of the argument over Kennedy’s retirement in a podcast Monday. Stohr mentioned the timing of the clerk reunion as one of the signs Kennedy may be planning to retire. On the other side, Stohr said the power Kennedy wields on the court would be hard for anyone to walk away.

Kennedy has been considered the “swing” vote among the nine justices for many years. With four strong conservatives – Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, John Roberts and the late Antonin Scalia – and four equally strident liberals – Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg – it often fell to the moderate Kennedy to cast a deciding vote on a case. 

For his part, Kennedy has kept mum on his future plans.

The next person to be nominated to serve on the court will face a different road to the bench. The vote on the “nuclear option” prior to the confirmation of Justice Neil Gorsuch earlier this month, has changed the process for confirming justices. 

It now takes a simple majority of 51 votes – instead of a “supermajority” of 60 votes – to confirm a nominee for a seat on the Supreme Court. There are 52 Republicans in the Senate, so while Democrats can still drag out the confirmation process, if the Republicans vote together they can push through Trump’s nominee. 


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