The White House has been working to prod Justice Anthony Kennedy out of his Supreme Court seat for months, giving his clerks plum judgeships, developing personal relationships, and striking the fear of a Democratic Senate into him, according to a Thursday New York Times report.
President Donald Trump has been assiduously appointing Kennedy clerks to federal appeals courts, floating their names for Supreme Court vacancies, and following through to put one on the bench: Justice Neil Gorsuch.
Trump is reportedly close to Kennedy, often praising him while criticizing his more conservative peers, and Ivanka Trump has visited the Supreme Court with her daughter at Kennedy’s invitation.
Trump allies have reportedly been lobbying Kennedy for months, telling him that getting a strict constructionist on the bench would be well-nigh impossible with a Democratic Senate.
Kennedy’s retirement is a significant win for Trump, who will now get another chance to alter the highest court, this time in an even more dramatic way as he’ll likely pick a staunch conservative without Kennedy’s occasional swing on social issues.