Did you know that when a person is nominated and confirmed to be a US Supreme Court justice, that person gets the job for life? Sweet, right? In the history of the US Supreme Court, there has been only one justice who was impeached—everyone else either resigned or retired.
Earlier last week, US Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement, and it was big news! Why? Well, Justice Kennedy was thought of as the judge who often cast the swing vote. What does that mean? It means that he’s the guy who usually broke the tie when four justices decided one way, and the other four decided the other way. In many landmark (or very important) cases, such as the legalization of same-sex marriage, Justice Kennedy was the deciding vote. Now that he’s retiring, President Trump gets another opportunity to pick a Supreme Court justice (remember when he first came into office and elected justice Neil Gorsuch?) and shift the court more to the right. What does that mean? Well, although the job of a Supreme Court justice is to interpret the US Constitution, some judges are more conservative when it comes to interpreting the law, while others are more liberal. With a “swing vote” justice leaving the bench, President Trump has the opportunity to nominate a young conservative justice and thus push the court more to the right, or in other words, make the court more conservative. So what if President Trump nominates a young conservative justice? This person will still need to be confirmed, right? Right. But you see, Republicans currently hold the majority in the Senate, which most likely means that they will vote with the President. What will happen, and who will President Trump nominate? We’ll just have to wait and see.
What traits do you think make a good US Supreme Court justice?