While all eyes are set on the looming confirmation vote for Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch, a look ahead shows that the Senate may be considering another potential Supreme Court justice sooner than expected.
According to a report from Politico, the Trump team is already preparing for the next possible vacancy – and the seat they have their eyes on belongs to a justice with a series of connections to the Trump family.
80-year-old Justice Anthony Kennedy shared a moment with President Donald Trump after his February address to a joint session of Congress. As noted by Politico's Shane Goldmacher, microphones in the chamber picked up an interesting conversation, hinting that the two might share a closer relationship that was previously known:
“Say hello to your boy,” Trump said, “Special guy.” “Your kids have been very nice to him,” Kennedy replied. “Well,” Trump said, “they love him, and they love him in New York.”
Kennedy's son Justin is familiar with the Trump family, specifically the president's son Donald Jr., through the New York City real estate circles they both move in. Additionally, Kennedy's son Gregory has connections with Trump advisor and Silicon Valley entrepreneur Peter Thiel, through their shared time at Stanford Law School, as well as recent business ventures.
But perhaps the most interesting connection between the two families lies in a move by Justice Kennedy himself – when Ivanka Trump visited the Supreme Court in February with her daughter Arabella to hear oral arguments, she was visiting as a guest of Justice Kennedy.
Potentially replacing Justice Kennedy would mark a significant win in the Supreme Court for conservatives. While Neil Gorsuch will likely fill a similar role as the late Justice Antonin Scalia, a replacement for Kennedy could shift the balance of the court. Explaining the significance of his role on the court, Politico writes:
Kennedy, who has sat at the decisive fulcrum of the most important Supreme Court cases for more than a decade. Replacing him with a reliable conservative would tip the court to the right, even if no other seat comes open under Trump
Due to his previous position as a clerk for Justice Kennedy, the nomination of Neil Gorsuch could potentially have been made with the thought that it could ensure Kennedy that his seat would be in good hands with President Trump, should he choose to step down. Interestingly, Gorsuch would be the first Supreme Court justice to serve alongside a justice he previously clerked for.
Despite buzz in legal circles about his seat, Justice Anthony Kennedy has yet to give any clear indication of his plans. But if you thought the fight over Neil Gorsuch was bad, the fight over a seat that could potentially shift the balance of the entire court will likely be even uglier.