Washington is abuzz with rumors of a possible upcoming Supreme Court vacancy. Many are trying to watch for clues and predict whether a vacancy is impending over the next several weeks. Traditionally, many judges and justices opt to retire at the end of a court's term, which for the U.S. Supreme Court occurs in last week of June.
All eyes are on Justice Anthony Kennedy, 81, who reportedly considered calling it quits last spring. As the court’s current term winds to a close, speculation about his plans has again swept the capital, with court watchers searching for clues.
Those who say Kennedy is here to stay — at least for now — point to the fact that he’s already hired his law clerks for the next term, as Above the Law reported...“I don’t think he would have hired all four clerks for next year if he was seriously entertaining stepping down,” said Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law. “I just don’t think it’s going to happen.”
But Ian Samuel, a Climenko fellow and lecturer on law at Harvard Law School, who clerked for the late Justice Antonin Scalia, said the small number of cases the court has granted could signal Kennedy is throwing in the towel. The court has only agreed to hear 15 cases so far next term....“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,’” Samuel said. . .
Of course, this is like reading tea leaves.
But regardless of this, it is important to note that if another vacancy should occur during President Trump's term, President Trump and his Administration are ready. The President already has put out a revised list of twenty-five potential Supreme Court nominees, based upon the list he unveiled on the campaign trail in 2016.
While this version of the list was put out on November 17, 2017, it has been maintained and updated since then (i.e., Judge Stras was just confirmed by the Senate to the Eighth Circuit on January 30th, yet is up-to-date with current position below).
President Donald J. Trump’s Supreme Court List:
- Amy Coney Barrett of Indiana, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
- Keith Blackwell of Georgia, Supreme Court of Georgia
- Charles Canady of Florida, Supreme Court of Florida
- Steven Colloton of Iowa, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
- Allison Eid of Colorado, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
- Britt Grant of Georgia, Supreme Court of Georgia
- Raymond Gruender of Missouri, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
- Thomas Hardiman of Pennsylvania, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
- Brett Kavanaugh of Maryland, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
- Raymond Kethledge of Michigan, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
- Joan Larsen of Michigan, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
- Mike Lee of Utah, United States Senator
- Thomas Lee of Utah, Supreme Court of Utah
- Edward Mansfield of Iowa, Supreme Court of Iowa
- Federico Moreno of Florida, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida
- Kevin Newsom of Alabama, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
- William Pryor of Alabama, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
- Margaret Ryan of Virginia, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces
- David Stras of Minnesota, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
- Diane Sykes of Wisconsin, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
- Amul Thapar of Kentucky, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
- Timothy Tymkovich of Colorado, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
- Robert Young of Michigan, Supreme Court of Michigan (Ret.)
- Don Willett of Texas, Supreme Court of Texas [recently confirmed to the Fifth Circuit]
- Patrick Wyrick of Oklahoma, Supreme Court of Oklahoma
It is noteworthy that several on this list have recently had nominations and confirmation hearings before this Senate (within the last 18 months), including: Coney Barrett, Eid, Larsen, Newsom, Stras, and Thapar.
We will keep an eye on what could become the political battle of the year. Should this occur, the RNLA will be one of the leading sources for all things Supreme Court and judicial nominations.