Justice Kennedy is retiring and much of Twitter thinks we're doomed

Fred Schilling Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

Without Kennedy on the bench, the high court could move to the right on major social issues including abortion and gay rights. A Supreme Court vacancy is a much-welcomed jolt as Republicans seek to galvanize core voters in states crucial to their chances - those in which Trump won by double digits and a Democratic senator faces reelection.

A Ronald Reagan appointee, Kennedy, 81, usually voted with the court's conservatives.

Democrats were left irate in 2016, after a Republican-majority Senate refused to vote on Barack Obama's 2016 nominee Merrick Garland.

Though he was nominated by a Republican president, Kennedy, a California native, also has a strong libertarian streak, and he was the swing vote on the court, casting the deciding vote on the same-sex marriage decision, affirmative action, and Citizens United, among others. If he had waited, and if Democrats had taken control of the Senate in November, Trump could have found it more hard to get his choice confirmed.

Writing for the court, Chief Justice John Roberts said that the government "has set forth a sufficient national security justification" to prevail. But this could be due in part to the fact that the court has in recent years taken up more of the sharp questions that conservatives want it to take up.

With the news that conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy is to retire, a huge opportunity has landed in Donald Trump's lap.

Women in no-abortion states who still wanted to terminate their pregnancies would be forced to choose between travelling to liberal states, getting an illegal abortion, or reluctantly allowing the pregnancy to continue.

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Republicans now hold a bare 51-49 majority in the Senate, although that includes the ailing Sen.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) speaks with reporters following a closed-door luncheon on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who served as the vice chairman of Trump's transition team, told Fox: "When he first announced it, he said "Muslim ban". The White House last November issued an expanded list that includes other prominent conservatives, including Judge Brett Kavanagh, a former Kennedy law clerk who serves on the US appeals court in Washington. In October, Kavanaugh dissented when his court ruled that a teenage migrant in federal custody should be able to obtain an abortion immediately.

The president said he hopes to "pick someone who is just as outstanding" as Kennedy, noting that he has a list of about 25 contenders whom he could nominate to become the next Supreme Court justice. In that time, his score drifted toward the liberal bloc - think of his tiebreaking votes on important issues such as abortion and gay rights - while the other justices, with the notable exception of Roberts, remained more entrenched in their separate positions.

The conservative justice, who turns 82 in July, is the second-oldest on the nine-member court.

Few obstacles seem to stand in the way of confirming Kennedy's replacement before the court reconvenes in October.

Here are the hurdles any nominee would have to clear to be confirmed.

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