REAX Of Senator Patrick Leahy On Justice Kennedy’s Announcement Of His Decision To Retire From The Supreme Court

I urge senators, the President, and the American people to consider the methodical and measured approach Justice Kennedy has taken for decades on the Court.  I did not agree with many of his opinions, but I always respected his independence, and his willingness to defend the most vulnerable and recognize the innate rights of all Americans.  If President Trump attempts to replace Justice Kennedy with an extreme nominee outside of the mainstream, we face the prospect of a Supreme Court that would systematically dismantle Justice Kennedy’s legacy on these issues – and do lasting damage to the constitutional rights of the most marginalized in our society.

I am concerned that anyone who passes President Trump’s litmus tests for judges will not be capable of rising above politics and providing a check against this administration’s many excesses.  I am concerned that the rights of consumers, workers and vulnerable Americans would be expendable in favor of the wealthy and the powerful.  I am concerned that a woman’s right to choose has never been so at risk in the 45 years since Roe v. Wade.  And I am concerned that, just as our country has embraced an individual’s right to marry whomever they choose, marriage equality is now at risk as well.

Senate Republicans have a dreadful record in recent years of responsibly handling nominations to our courts.  They have shown a willingness to break any and all rules in rushing to stack the courts with partisan ideologues.  This includes the unprecedented refusal to consider a qualified, mainstream nominee of President Obama’s to this Court.  They then took the unprecedented step of changing Senate rules to confirm an extreme far-right nominee to that stolen seat. 

I urge this President to change course and to consider the rights of all Americans, not just a few.  I urge him to abandon his “short-list” of far-right, special interest-approved nominees.  Under the McConnell Rule, there is no rush to fill this seat.  The American people deserve a chance to have their voices heard.  I urge the President to show the courage that President Obama displayed and to use the coming months to find a consensus, mainstream nominee who can receive bipartisan support in the Senate.

Press Contact

David Carle: 202-224-3693