Although not the oldest, he is the most senior member of the court, having been nominated by former President Ronald Reagan.
Were there a Justice Garland instead on the court this week, President Donald Trump would have very likely not have been able to boast of a "tremendous victory" in Tuesday's immigration cases. "And what we're looking for, as Republicans, I can tell you, is strong borders, no crime".
For the past 12 years, since Justice Sandra Day O'Connor retired from the bench, Kennedy has been the court's median justice, with four justices to the left of him and four to the right. "We will vote to confirm Justice Kennedy's successor this fall".
"This is the most important Supreme Court vacancy for this country in at least a generation", said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) "Nothing less than the fate of our health-care system, reproductive rights for women and countless other protections for middle-class Americans are at stake".
"I expect the nominee to be like Justice Gorsuch, to demonstrate excellence in every respect, and to earn widespread support from the American people, and bipartisan support for confirmation in the Senate", Leo said.
Justice Kennedy, 82, will retire on 31 July, according to the letter. He sided with conservatives on campaign finance - writing the 2010 Citizens United decision that gave free rein to third-party groups to run attack ads in elections - and gun rights, voting in favour of striking down a ban on handguns in Washington. Trump has said the policy is not a Muslim ban, but a necessary safety precaution to be used against countries that don't comply with USA vetting standards.
President Donald Trump the search for a replacement will begin immediately - and he'll pick from the list of possible justices he released during his campaign. Grassley said the Senate could provide the extra funds for additional committee majority and minority staff, and he would want the nomination right away.
Progressives have reason to be concerned: When asked outright during 2016 a presidential debate with Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton if he'd like to see Roe v. Wade overturned, Trump said if he became president and began nominating justices, it would be all but inevitable.
Instead, Mr. McConnell, delayed until after the election of Mr. Trump, allowing another conservative, Neil Gorsuch, to replace Mr. Scalia. "If we put another two, three justices on, that will happen. that will happen automatically, in my opinion, because I am putting pro-life justices on the court". "We need only look at Trump's own words to understand that this has always been a racist and anti-Islamic attempt to ban Muslims from entering this country", Sanders said in a statement.