WASHINGTON — Justice Anthony M. Kennedy announced on Wednesday that he would retire, setting the stage for a furious fight over the future direction of the Supreme Court.
Justice Kennedy, 81, has long been the decisive vote in many closely divided cases. His retirement gives President Trump the opportunity to fundamentally change the course of the Supreme Court.
A Trump appointee would very likely create a solid five-member conservative majority that could imperil abortion rights and expand gun rights.
Justice Kennedy’s voting record was moderately conservative. He wrote the majority opinion in Citizens United, which allowed unlimited campaign spending by corporations and unions, and he joined the majority in Bush v. Gore, which handed the 2000 presidential election to George W. Bush. He also voted with the court’s conservatives in cases on the Second Amendment and voting rights.