Securities Regulation Daily Justice Kennedy, swing vote on many 5-4 decisions, announces his retirement
Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Justice Kennedy, swing vote on many 5-4 decisions, announces his retirement

By Harold Bishop, J.D.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy has advised his colleagues on the Supreme Court that he has sent formal notification to President Trump that he is resigning his regular active status as an Associate Justice effective July 31, 2018, while continuing to serve in a senior status.

In his notice to the President, Kennedy stated: "For a member of the legal profession it is the highest of honors to serve on this court. Please permit me by this letter to express my profound gratitude for having had the privilege to seek in each case how best to know, interpret, and defend the Constitution and the laws that must always conform to its mandates and promises."

Kennedy further stated in a press release: "It has been the greatest honor and privilege to serve our nation in the federal judiciary for 43 years, 30 of those years on the Supreme Court." He added that while his family was willing for him to continue to serve, his decision to step aside was based on his deep desire to spend more time with them. He said, too, that admiration for his colleagues on the Court means that he will retain warm ties with each of them in the years to come.

Justice Kennedy was nominated by President Reagan and took his oath of office on February 18, 1988. At 81, Kennedy is the second oldest justice next to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Since the retirement of Sandra Day O'Connor in 2006, Kennedy has been the swing vote on many of the 5–4 decisions reached by the Robert’s Court. His retirement will give President Trump the opportunity to make the Court more reliably conservative.

Under senior status, Kennedy will continue to receive his salary for life as long as he fulfills the service requirements of 28 U.S.C. §371(e).

Solicitor General statement. "As Solicitor General of the United States and on behalf of this Office, we are grateful and appreciative for Justice Kennedy’s tireless years of public service in our federal judiciary and on our Nation’s highest Court," said Solicitor General Noel Francisco in a statement. "His jurisprudence has left an indelible mark and his commitment to our cherished First Amendment freedom of speech will be a legacy for generations to come. I count it a privilege to have argued before him and wish him and his family all the best in the years ahead."

Chairman Clayton statement. SEC Chairman Jay Clayton also issued a statement on the news of Justice Kennedy’s retirement. Clayton congratulated the justice and thanked him for "his unwavering commitment to the Constitution and service to the American people." This service included furthering investors’ interest and enhancing market function, said Clayton, who added that "it was my great privilege to be sworn into office by Justice Kennedy and to receive his counsel on public service. We should all care so deeply about America and its people."

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