The 81-year-old justice, who has served on the U.S. Supreme Court for 30 years, was known as a swing vote on some issues. Now President Donald Trump will have the opportunity to place a more solidly conservative judge in Kennedy’s place, tilting the nation’s highest bench further in favor of Republicans.
Soon after Kennedy made his announcement, Toobin tweeted his prediction that abortion would be illegal in 20 states within 18 months.
He followed up that message in a Wednesday appearance on CNN.
“Let’s talk about what America is going to be like that’s different,” Toobin said of life in the U.S. after Kennedy is replaced. “You are going to see 20 states pass laws banning abortion outright. Just banning abortion. Because they know that there are now going to be five votes on the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.”
There was “just no doubt,” Toobin said, that abortion would be illegal in a significant part of the United States within a year and a half.
“Roe v. Wade is doomed,” he added. “It is gone because Donald Trump won the election and because he’s going to have the chance to appoint two Supreme Court justices.”
Soon after he was sworn into office in 2017, Trump nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch to succeed the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who had died a year earlier. At the time of Scalia’s death, then-President Barack Obama had nominated Judge Merrick Garland to fill Scalia’s seat. But he was blocked by Senate Republicans, who refused to approve a Supreme Court nominee during a presidential election year.
On Wednesday, Democrats called on Republicans to refrain from picking a new Supreme Court justice this close to the midterm elections. But Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) indicated they would move swiftly to replace Kennedy. A top priority of Republican voters and politicians has been to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision holding that a women’s right to an abortion, with certain limitations, fell within her right to privacy under the 14th Amendment.