by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The Washington rumor mill is churning with speculation about whether Justice Anthony Kennedy will retire at the end of the Supreme Court’s term next month.
The rumors seem to pop up annually in recent years. But with Kennedy’s 30th year on the high court passing in February and the justice nearing 82, the whispers about his future seem to be growing louder.
And congressional Republicans haven’t been shy in vocalizing their hope for a vacancy on the high court before the 2018 midterm elections. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., for example, told an audience in March he believed Kennedy would retire around early summer.
Though Kennedy may remain on the court for another term — he has, after all, hired law clerks for the next term — outside groups are laying the groundwork for a vacancy.
Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group backed by GOP megadonors Charles and David Koch, rolled out a new initiative focused on judicial engagement in January.
The group has been training its activists about the proper role of judges and the importance of the federal judiciary. …
… But it’s not just conservative groups who are readying themselves in the event Kennedy retires.
This week, alumni of the White House and Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaigns announced a new group called Demand Justice, which seeks to mobilize liberals around issues relating to the federal courts.
Led by former Clinton and Justice Department spokesman Brian Fallon, the group plans to raise $10 million throughout its first year, the New York Times reported.