Donald Trump is considering which of his conservative picks for the supreme court he will to nominate to take the seat vacated by Justice Anthony Kennedy this week. Whoever is chosen, their appointment, if approved, could upend legal precedent on key issues where Kennedy, arguably a moderate conservative, had been counted as a crucial swing vote.
After Kennedy’s retirement, perhaps of greatest concern for the left is the question mark that now hovers over Roe v Wade, the landmark 1973 supreme court case that recognized a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion.
During a pivotal reconsideration of the rights secured by Roe v Wade in 1992, Kennedy upset the anti-abortion movement by casting the crucial vote to uphold a woman’s right to choose. He defended it again 2006.
Trump’s shortlist has more conservative legal minds, many of whom have been open about their anti-choice views. William Pryor, an appeals judge on the 11th circuit, has previously called Roe v Wade the “worst abomination in the history of constitutional law”.
Kennedy has continued to evolve on affirmative action, which advances members of groups known to have experienced discrimination. Kennedy cast the fifth vote in the 2007 supreme court decision against Seattle and Louisville plans to use race to account for diversity and integration in schools. In 2016, however, Kennedy’s vote proved pivotal when the court upheld the University of Texas’s affirmative action programs, which used race as one of its admissions factors.
Trump’s justice department has sided with a group suing Harvard for allegedly discriminatory admissions process, which might signal the sort of perspective on affirmative action he could expect his nominee to hold.
Kennedy might be best known for penning the majority opinion in Lawrence v Texas in 2003, which argued for respect for the private lives of a gay couple and subsequently all couples, same-sex or not. He followed that up with writing the majority opinion of the court in Obergefell v Hodges providing the legal basis for same-sex marriage.
But in 2000, Kennedy…