Nadler warns of ‘right-wing’ takeover of Supreme Court
Brooklyn lawmaker says Kennedy was ‘critical bulwark’
The top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee warned of a coming “right-wing” takeover of the U.S. Supreme Court in the wake of the retirement announcement from Justice Anthony Kennedy, who often served as the swing vote when the equally divided court decided on controversial cases.
U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan-Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst) said Kennedy played a pivotal role on the court and that the new justice to be selected by President Donald Trump will likely tilt the court to the far right.
Kennedy, 81, announced on July 27 that he will retire on July 31. The process of picking his replacement and having that nominee win confirmation by the Senate is likely to turn into a political war between Republicans and Democrats.
“All Americans who care about equality, human dignity, and justice should be deeply concerned about the retirement of Justice Kennedy,” Nadler said in a statement.
Kennedy “was not always on the right side of every issue, but he often served as a critical bulwark against the extremes of conservative jurisprudence on issues ranging from marriage equality to abortion rights and racial justice,” Nadler said.
Kennedy was appointed to the Supreme Court by Ronald Reagan in 1987.
The New York Times reported on June 29 that Kennedy was a flexible presence on the court, often serving as the fifth and crucial vote on the nine-member court that is split ideologically 4-4 between left-leaning and right-leaving justices.
Kennedy voted with the left-leaning camp on issues such as same-sex marriage, abortion rights and the death penalty but voted with right-leaning justices in cases involving voting rights, gun control and political campaign funding.
With Kennedy gone, the Supreme Court loses an important person in the middle, according to Nadler.
“Our nation faces questions of the greatest constitutional importance, which now may be left to a Supreme Court dominated by right-wing ideologues,” Nadler said.
Still, Nadler said he is holding out hope that the next person to be named to the court will not be an ideologue.
“It is my hope, and the hope of millions of Americans, that Justice Kennedy’s replacement be an honest and fair-minded arbiter who will uphold and defend the rights of all Americans regardless of age, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation or national origin,” Nadler said.
Nadler, who has served in Congress since 1992, is currently the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee. U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Virginia) is the committee’s chairman.
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