New justice will change the balance of the Court

The announced retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy will give President Donald Trump another chance to perform the task so many people elected him to do — to appoint another conservative justice to the U.S. Supreme Court. You could say the reason so many people chose him over Hillary Clinton in 2016 was shiver that went down their spines when they considered what kind of justices Clinton would appoint.

Trump replaced the late Antonin Scalia with Neil Gorsuch, an appoinment that replaced one conservative justice with another. But the replacement for Kennedy will undoubtedly change the balance of the court.

Kennedy has been the “swing vote” on many of the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decisions over his 30 year career. A moderate conservative, he has sided with the liberal members of the court on a number of rulings, including refusing to overturn Roe v. Wade on abortion, and overturning restrictive abortion limitations in some states. He also wrote the majority opinion on the decision that established the right to same-sex marriages. But he also sided with conservativs on Citizens United, the decision that opened the floodgates of corporate money into the political fundraising.

It is relatively easy to find a justice candidate who is conservative or liberal. Finding one who can tiptoe along the middle line as Kennedy has would be impossible, and we think Trump will nominate someone who will fall solidly on the conservative side.

Given the one-vote Republican majority in the Senate, we’re also sure that whoever Trump nominates will be subjected to a harsh confirmation review similar to the grilling that eventually denied Robert Bork a seat on the Supreme Court in 1987.