Please stay put, Justice Kennedy

I want to join a chorus of those who want U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy to stay right where he is.

He is on the nation’s highest court and is reportedly, allegedly, supposedly considering retiring sometime this year.

I don’t want him to go. I want him to remain as a key “swing vote” on the court, giving it some semblance of balance. The consequences of a Kennedy departure could have — in my humble view — a potentially devastating impact on the way of life for millions of Americans.

The New York Times editorialized over the weekend about its desire that he stay on the court. Read the editorial here.

Yes, I understand that “elections have consequences.” I have taken particular note of that when previous presidents have made critical federal judicial appointments.

This president could shape the high court’s makeup for decades with yet another appointment. Donald Trump already has picked a solid conservative, Neil Gorsuch, to the Supreme Court. What would another Trump pick do? Hmm. Let’s see.

It could revoke a woman’s right to determine whether she wants to end a pregnancy; it could mean the end of same-sex marriage, which the court has determined was guaranteed under the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution; it could roll back civil rights guarantees that previous courts have upheld repeatedly.

President Reagan appointed Justice Kennedy to the court in 1988. The president counted on Kennedy being a reliable “conservative” voice on the court. Kennedy hasn’t filled that bill. He has sided with conservatives and with liberals. He’s a swing vote. Kennedy presence on the court produces a certain drama as the public await key court decisions.

He’s now 81 years of age. It’s been reported that he wants to hang up his robe and spend more time with his grandchildren. I get it. Honest. I do. But why not wait another two years, until after the 2020 election? If Trump gets re-elected, then he could quit if he really wants out. If the president is not re-elected and the nation regains its political sanity and elects someone with a clue about how government works, then he surely can retire from the bench.

Just … not yet, Mr. Justice.

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