It’s really the Chicken Little version of a possible opening on the United States Supreme Court, but Senator Dean Heller of Nevada seems to think it’s really coming this year. 2018 might well be the summer that Justice Anthony Kenney, 81, actually retires to spend more time with his grandchildren (he’s voiced this desire multiple times in the past, so in this case, it’s most likely not a cover for some other issue).
Usually when these reports about Kennedy or any other Supreme Court Justice surface they have no official source. This time, though, with Heller actually putting himself out there, it might actually happen. Although why now is an interesting development.
Audio of Nevada’s Dean Heller speaking at a recent event in Las Vegas obtained by Politico showed his view that the departure of the justice would be a boost for his reelection campaign this fall.
“Kennedy is going to retire around sometime early summer,” Heller, who is viewed as vulnerable in November after Hillary Clinton won Nevada in 2016.
Yes, an open seat on the Supreme Court would definitely help any Republican running for re-election and those trying to unseat incumbent Democrats. There is no question that putting additional justices on the court with a specific political bent would be a priority for either side of the divide. And Kennedy’s seat, in particular, is one Republicans would want to fill.
The justice was appointed by conservative Ronald Reagan after the failed nomination of Robert Bork, but his judicial philosophy has placed him in the middle of the court on many important issues and given him an incredibly powerful position in the political life of the country.
In effect, putting another conservative on the court would eliminate the swing vote, something that would comfort people across the fruited plain who have watched packed courts write our rights out of existence. Replacing Kennedy could put a stop to that. At least for now.