Skip to main content

Justice Anthony Kennedy Is (Not) Retiring

But soon-to-be-unemployed Republican Senator Dean Heller really -really- wants you to think he is.

Dean Heller, the Republican senator from Nevada, is desperate. He's unpopular, his party is unpopular, and his president is even more unpopular. And he's running for reelection in a state that Trump lost in a year that Democrats are angrier than the Tea Party could possibly conceive of.

So, like all good Republicans, Heller has decided that the best course of actions is to lie to his base to get them to vote:

Republican Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada told a group earlier in March that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy will likely retire in the coming months, Politico reports.

“Kennedy is going to retire around sometime early summer,” Heller told a group in Las Vegas. “Which I’m hoping will get our base a little motivated because right now they’re not very motivated. But I think a new Supreme Court justice will get them motivated.”

Of course, the problem is that Justice Kennedy just hired several new law clerks for the October 2018 term, a strong indication he's not planning on retiring, something Heller as well as everyone in Washington is well aware of. Heller is clearly banking on the ignorance of his voters as well as their fear, which, to be fair, is usually a good bet for Republicans. It's served them pretty well for the last 50 years. Still, it shows how little respect he has for his base that in the same breath he's telling the lie, he's giving away the reason for it.

On the other hand, Heller's ploy is not entirely inaccurate...for the left. Kennedy (81), Ginsburg (84) and Breyer (79) are all well into the age of retirement/dropping dead at a moment's notice. A Senate controlled by the Democrats will block any justice Trump nominates because, let's be honest, Trump is a traitor working for Russia and should never have been allowed to place Gorsuch on the Court in the first place. 

For his part, Justice Kennedy has not given any indication about his plans. Republicans desperately want him to retire under Trump to secure the Court for the next 15 years or so under an extremist right wing majority. Kennedy, however, has been a moderate conservative and may be loathe to allow an imbecile like Donald Trump to replace him with an extremist justice that would lurch the Court to the far right, undoing many of his swing vote decisions. We'll have a better idea of where his inclinations lie, with party or country, when he's the swing vote in the coming gerrymandering case that will either cement the extremism of the GOP or force it back towards the center in order to compete for moderate votes again.

But regardless of what Kennedy ultimately does, Heller is pretty much screwed going into November and all the lies in the world aren't going to save him from the wrath of the voters. The stench of Trump is all over him and the mob is coming with the tar and feathers to run him out of town.