Kennedy has told people applying to clerk for him that he’s considering retirement, according to a report on Justice Neil Gorsuch that the outlet published Saturday:
But it is unlikely that Kennedy will remain on the court for the full four years of the Trump presidency. While he long ago hired his law clerks for the coming term, he has not done so for the following term (beginning Oct. 2018), and has let applicants for those positions know he is considering retirement.
Kennedy departing anytime before President Donald Trump leaves office would pave the way for the president to nominate another conservative to the high court, swinging its balance further to the right. (Trump nominated Gorsuch in January.)
Trump vowed during his presidential campaign that he would nominate justices who would help overturn the abortion rights decision Roe v. Wade.
“If we put another two or perhaps three justices on, [overturning Roe v. Wade] will happen,” he said in October during the final debate against his Democratic rival, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “That will happen automatically in my opinion, because I am putting pro-life justices on the court.”
Kennedy, who is frequently a swing vote, has sat on the Supreme Court since 1988 and was nominated by President Ronald Reagan.
Read more at NPR.