New York Times: “For the second year in a row, rumors that Justice Anthony M. Kennedy may retire from the Supreme Court are sweeping Washington. He is 81, and he is doubtless weighing many factors in deciding whether to stay. Among them, experts in judicial behavior said, are the tug of party loyalty, the preservation of his judicial legacy and how close his retirement would be to a presidential election.”
The Economist: “Why is Justice Kennedy hanging around for another year? Maybe he would like to put in a full three decades before hanging up his robe. Maybe he isn’t anxious to give Donald Trump an opportunity to replace him. Or maybe the dazzling array of cases coming to the Supreme Court in the term beginning on October 2nd is just too tantalizing to watch from the sidelines. Whatever his motivation, Justice Kennedy is likely to be the central player in a number of the most contentious disputes he and his eight colleagues will hear when they return from their summer break.”
“The first blockbuster comes on the second day of the term when the court hears Gill v Whitford, a challenge to partisan gerrymandering that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says is ‘perhaps the most important’ of the term and that Ian Samuel, co-host of First Mondays, a podcast about the Supreme Court, told listeners may be the ‘most important of your life.'”
NPR buries potentially big news about Justice Anthony Kennedy in a story about Justice Neil Gorsuch:
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’s position on the court is more than consequential. In the most hotly contested and closely divided cases, his vote often decides the outcome. With every passing day, it has become more clear that President Trump’s first Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, is probably even more conservative than the justice he replaced, Antonin Scalia.
Rick Hasen: “This would put Justice Kennedy’s retirement right before the 2018 midterms, giving the Republican base reasons to turn out and keep the Senate with a Republican majority (already a strong possibility in 2018)… Republicans in the Senate would have a strategic decision to make: try to confirm a replacement before the elections, or use it as a tool to boost midterm turnout.”
“White House sources think Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Supreme Court’s ideological fulcrum, may announce his retirement today, as the justices gather on the bench for the last time this term,” Mike Allen reports.
“Few domestic developments could more instantly and decisively change the national conversation — blotting out almost everything else, and vastly reducing the sting for conservatives is healthcare tanks.”
David Lat, writing last night: “Based on reports I’ve received from former AMK clerks who attended his law clerk reunion dinner last night, it is highly unlikely that Justice Kennedy will announce his retirement tomorrow.”
Associated Press: “To be sure, Kennedy has given no public sign that he will retire this year and give President Donald Trump his second high court pick in the first months of his administration. Kennedy’s departure would allow conservatives to take firm control of the court. But Kennedy turns 81 next month and has been on the court for nearly 30 years. Several of his former law clerks have said they think he is contemplating stepping down in the next year or so. Kennedy and his clerks were gathering over the weekend for a reunion that was pushed up a year and helped spark talk he might be leaving the court.”
Sources close to Justice Anthony Kennedy tell CNN that he “is seriously considering retirement, but they are unclear if it could occur as early as this term.”
“His departure would cause a seismic shift and offer President Donald Trump a chance to continue reshaping the court. Trump’s first nominee — Justice Neil Gorsuch, himself a former Kennedy clerk — joined the court earlier this year.”
“Just under 30 years later, Powell’s seat on the Court is occupied by Anthony Kennedy, who is likely to provide the swing vote in the cases that will be heard today — and many observers expect him to declare that the Constitution confers a right to same-sex marriage in all 50 states.”
Wonk Wire: America can changes its mind quickly