At the end of July, one of the leading Supreme Court justices will leave the bench for retirement. In a succinct response to Anthony Kennedy's retirement, Chelsea Clinton shared her mom's tweet from 2015 about the most powerful judicial body in the United States. Three years ago, Hillary Clinton, who at the time was running for president tweeted a warning, "A Republican president could nominate as many as four Supreme Court justices" and a link to a report from her website.
Clinton shared a screenshot of her mother's tweet from 2015, and highlighted "the first comment" on it. A Twitter user had criticized Hillary for her tweet, writing, "What utter BS talk policies and stop fear-mongering for votes. You should be ashamed!"
But it looks like the former secretary of state's tweet proved nearly prophetic three years later.
In an archived link to the report, Elizabeth Chan wrote on Hillary Clinton's website that a Republican president could have the power to put not one but four conservative judges over the duration of his presidential term. This would, Chan wrote, give the president "the power to transform the court, and American law, for generations to come."
For many liberals, the possibility that President Trump could appoint a hardline conservative to replace Kennedy's SCOTUS seat is a nightmarish situation. While serving as a Supreme Court justice, Kennedy was more often than not the swing vote. He supported landmark decisions for LGBTQ rights as well as abortion rights. He also voted alongside liberal justices on rulings such as on affirmative action.
That all could change when Trump picks a conservative in place of Kennedy. Last year, with the assistance of the right-wing group Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation, the president had already selected 25 names as potential successors to take Kennedy's spot. With the 81-year-old Supreme Court justice leaving his position on July 31, liberal and conservative hankering for Kennedy's role seems to be an all-time high.
With a conservative Supreme Court justice, things could take a downward turn for the more vulnerable people of society. For instance, it is more likely that a conservative Supreme Court justice will block or hinder women's access to reproductive health care, especially the right to a safe and legal abortion.
A progressive Supreme Court justice, on the other hand, is more likely to support better and affordable access to reproductive health care as well as other powers such as voting rights, affordable health care, and marriage equality.
Announcing his decision to retire in late July, Kennedy wrote a personal letter to the president saying, "For a member of the legal profession it is the highest of honors to serve on this Court. Please permit me by this letter to express my profound gratitude for having had the privilege to seek in each case how best to know, interpret, and defend the Constitution and the laws that must always conform to its mandates and promises." His announcement left many stunned on social media.
On Capitol Hill, senators like California Democrat Sen. Diane Feinstein released a statement, "We’re now four months away from an election to determine the party that will control the Senate."
"There should be no consideration of a Supreme Court nominee until the American people have a chance to weigh in," Feinstein cautioned.
But it's clear that the president has already initiated his search for Kennedy's replacement. Right after the Supreme Court justice announced his pending move, Trump told the press that he had "immediately" started his search for Kennedy's successor. It's more than possible that Trump will prove Hillary Clinton's words true by selecting a right-wing figure — a move with major implications for the Supreme Court of the United States.