Justice Anthony Kennedy announced Wednesday that he is retiring, giving President Trump a critical opportunity to move the Supreme Court more solidly to the right in what promises to be an epic confirmation fight. The 81-year-old senior associate justice informed the White House in a letter of his intention to step down from the high court after 30 years, effective July 31.
Outside Advisor to the President for Judicial Nominations Leonard Leo joined Fox News Radio's Guy Benson and Marie Harf to share his insight into finding a replacement for Justice Kennedy.
On the process of naming a replacement: The President's been through this once before so he has a pretty good familiarity with how it works. Historically it takes usually about two to three weeks for a White House to come out with a new nomination. And then from day of nomination to a vote in the Senator it usually takes about 70-100 days. (00:40)
On confirming Justice in an election year: Well, it's a different kind of election year. You know, the constitution gives the president the appointing authority and so when there's a presidential election and there's a Supreme Court vacancy really close to it there are good reasons for letting the American people elect a president and having a Supreme Court Justice selected later. This is a little different since this is the Senate re-elect. (1:14)
On how much they think about Senate when considering a nominee: Well, you have to remember that after the President was selected everybody came off of a very very ugly contentious political period and so even at the very start of the President's first selection process it was important to consider what kinds of people could get through the Senate and still be consistent with the President's philosophical principles on these issues. (3:05)
On issues Court is facing: First, I think you've seen the First Amendment get increased attention and emphasis. Freedom of speech in particular you saw three big cases this term regarding that. You see a little bit more in the area of free exercise of religion, less on the establishment cause and the establishment of religion more on free exercise, which again is kind of a freedom of expression area. So a lot on that area. (4:59)
On Court's importance recently on key issues: I can tell you the Court doesn't want to play that role. The Court wants the political branches to do what they're supposed to do and the Court wants to do basically what it's supposed to do. (6:38)