Speed Reads

2018 midterm elections

Some GOP senators want Justice Kennedy to retire so the Supreme Court is a midterms issue

Justices Anthony Kennedy and Ruth Bader Ginsburg are the two oldest sitting judges at the Supreme Court, and Ginsburg has made clear she has no intention of stepping down while President Trump is in office. That makes Kennedy the next probable departure, and several Republican senators told The Hill they hope he steps down by summer so the nomination of his replacement can galvanize the GOP base to retain a Senate majority in the 2018 midterms.

"He's a Republican; his wife's a Republican; his kids are Republican. You'd think he want his successor to be appointed by a Republican president," said one Senate Republican, who asked not to be named. "The only reason we won the White House and kept the Senate was because of that open Supreme Court seat," the senator added, arguing that the same circumstance could assure victory in 2018.

Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) made similar remarks in a speech earlier this month. But other Republicans, including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn (Texas) stressed to The Hill that Kennedy should serve as long as he likes.

Kennedy's office has not commented on potential retirement. And while it is true he was nominated by then-President Ronald Reagan, Kennedy often functions as the court's swing vote, providing a moderation valued by many on the left and right alike.