Rumors Swirl About Coming Retirement of Supreme Court Justice

May 21, 2018May 21, 2018

Rumors are swirling about the possibility of a retirement from the Supreme Court, according to The Hill

The reportedly might come from Anthony Kennedy, 81, who media reports claim has been considering quitting for the past year. As the court's current term comes to a close, speculation about his plans have again begun swirling throughout Washington and in the mainstream media. Those who follow the court have begun searching for clues. 

Nevertheless, many people believe that Kennedy is more likely here to stay, at least for now, and point to the fact that he hasn't signaled wanting to retire. In fact, Kennedy has even hired new staff for the upcoming term, including new law clerks, thereby making it even more unlikely that media reports about an upcoming retirement are actually true. 

Many people, including Court watchers and law professors, believe that Kennedy wouldn't have hired new law clerks for next year if he were seriously interested in stepping down. 

According to Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law, it probably "isn't going to happen."

"I don't think he would have hired all four clerks for next year if he was seriously entertaining stepping down," she added.

Others, however, believe the fact that the Court has agreed to only hear 15 cases so far next term signals that the justice could be preparing to throw in the towel. 

“One possibility is they are not granting cases because they don’t know who their ninth member is going to be. … You could imagine Kennedy telling the chief, ‘I’d like to keep this between us, but I’d like to retire,’ and the chief saying, ‘Let’s see who Kennedy’s replacement is before we grant all these cases,’” said Ian Samuel said, a lecturer on law at Harvard Law School. 

Another reason why many believe that Kennedy might retire is the fact that his wife has been showing up to oral arguments throughout the term. His wife's presence has made many question the state of his health. 

Other, however, have pointed out that the wives of other justices — including Breyer, Alito, and Gorsuch — have appeared at oral arguments, too. 

CNN writes that it is unlikely that Justice Kennedy will decide to retire, especially given his massive influence on the Court as the most frequent swing vote. Indeed, Kennedy has long reveled in his place on the Supreme Court, an institution that he greatly admires and respect, and which he has enjoyed participating in for many years. 

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