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Rumors and Rumblings of Kennedy Retirement Go Unanswered

By George Khoury, Esq. | Last updated on

Recently, headlines have been buzzing about the rumored retirement of Justice Kennedy. However, there hasn't been any announcement from the justice, nor the Court, about it. But the tradition of SCOTUS retirement speculation never stops.

Rather, the rumor mill has been churning thanks to the stump speech of a GOP Senator from Nevada, Dean Heller. Reportedly, during a campaign event, Heller claimed that Justice Kennedy will be retiring this summer. According to some, Heller is at risk of losing his Senate seat, particularly given the fact that Nevada voted Hillary in 2016.

A Real Supreme Retirement?

Although there are definitely some potential connections for the Senator to have inside information, there are plenty of indicators for the cynics out there that point to his statement being mere campaign trail puffery. For one, the fact that a whole batch of law clerks have already been hired by Justice Kennedy for the October 2018 term strongly suggests the justice isn't planning on going anywhere for at least this summer and fall.

Additionally, replacing the reputed swing vote justice with a conservative justice is one of those campaign rally cries, so-to-speak, that can, as Heller believes, help mobilize voters; so it would make sense for this sort of thing to just get said while stumping speech-ing around.

Tradition of Justices

An interesting consideration noted by some is the tradition of justices retiring during presidential terms when the party that appointed them are in power. And, of course, Justice Kennedy was appointed by a Republican president.

The Kennedy retirement rumor mill was churning before Heller ever opened his mouth. So unless the justice comes out and explicitly puts these rumors to rest, it looks like we can look forward to finding out if they're true in April, when he's rumored to announce, or at some point over the summer (or in the fall -- because that's how rumor mills work).

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