CNN- Justice Anthony Kennedy, a conservative who provided key votes for same sex-marriage, abortion access and affirmative action, will retire from the Supreme Court.
The retirement is effective July 31, Kennedy said in a letter to President Donald Trump on Wednesday.
Kennedy’s decision to step down could transform the Supreme Court for generations. Trump will have his second opportunity to nominate a justice and will likely replace Kennedy with a young, conservative jurist. That would create a bloc of five staunch conservative justices who could move the court further to the right and cement a conservative majority for the foreseeable future.
The nomination battle will likely ignite a firestorm on Capitol Hill as it comes just a year after Republicans changed the rules of the Senate in order to push through the nomination of Justice Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s first nominee.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who blocked President Barack Obama‘s nomination of Merrick Garland in 2016 until the presidential election was held, paving the way for Gorsuch, said the Senate will move quickly.
“We will vote to confirm Justice Kennedy’s successor this fall,” McConnell said Wednesday.