Trump on Kennedy's Successor: 'We Have a List of 25 People'

By Melanie Arter | June 27, 2018 | 3:51pm EDT

( – Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote major opinions stating that abortion and same-sex marriage are constitutional rights, announced his retirement on Wednesday after 30 years on the bench, effective July 31. He will continue to serve “in a senior status,” Kennedy said in his letter to President Donald Trump.

Trump praised Kennedy as “a tireless voice for individual rights and the Founders’ enduring vision of limited government.” Trump learned of Kennedy’s intention to retire when he visited the White House on Wednesday.

“Today, we thank Justice Anthony M. Kennedy for his thirty years of distinguished service on the Supreme Court of the United States. In 1987, President Reagan nominated him to the Court, and he was swiftly confirmed without opposition. A Californian—like the President who appointed him—Justice Kennedy is a true man of letters,” Trump said in a statement.

“During his tenure on the Court, he authored landmark opinions in every significant area of constitutional law, most notably on equal protection under the law, the separation of powers, and the First Amendment’s guarantees of freedom of speech and religion,” the president said.

“Justice Kennedy has been a tireless voice for individual rights and the Founders’ enduring vision of limited government. His words have left an indelible mark not only on this generation, but on the fabric of American history,” Trump added.

Later during a media availability with Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, Trump said Kennedy has been “He’s been a great justice of the Supreme Court.”

“He is a man who is displaying great vision. He’s displayed tremendous vision, and he will be missed, but he will be retiring, and we will begin our search for a new justice of the United States Supreme Court,” the president said.

Trump said he will “begin immediately” to find a replacement for Kennedy and will “pick somebody who will be as outstanding.”

“He’s a very spectacular man, really a spectacular man, and I know that he will be around hopefully for a long time to advise and he’s going to be teaching and doing other things, so thank you to Justice Kennedy,” the president added.

When asked who Trump will choose as Kennedy’s replacement, Trump said, “We have a list of 25 people that I actually had during my election. I had 20, and as you know I added 5 a little while ago. We have a very excellent list of great talented, highly educated, highly intelligent, hopefully tremendous people. I think the list is very outstanding.

“When I was running, I put down a list of 20 people, because not being a politician, I think people wanted to hear what some of my choices may be, and it was pretty effective, and I think you see the kind of quality that we’re looking when you look at that list, but I did add, I added five additional people to the list, so it will be somebody from that list, so we have now boiled it down to about 25 people,” the president added.

Trump refused to tell who Kennedy recommended as his replacement, but said, “There are certain names that are just outstanding, names that you already know to be honest with you.”

When asked if the president would consider holding Kennedy’s seat open until after the mid-term elections in November, Trump said, “I haven’t really thought about that. I think you want to go as quickly as possible.

“It’s a process, but haven’t really thought of that, but we had a big day yesterday, very big. We had a great decision today in terms of what was just released by the Supreme Court – yesterday obviously with the travel ban was extremely big, and we had some tremendous elections,” he said.


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