Kentucky Lawmakers React To Kennedy Retirement

Jun 27, 2018

With Wednesday's retirement announcement by Justice Anthony Kennedy, President Donald Trump is set to nominate a second justice to the U.S. Supreme Court. Reaction in the commonwealth split predictably along partisan lines, despite reports that a Kentuckian could be in the running to replace the key swing vote.

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy listens at a roundtable discussion titled: "Making the Law Work for Everyone", Friday, June 13,2008
Credit AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

Wasting little time, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took to the Senate floor with a promise to vote on his replacement this fall – a sharp contrast to his decision to deny President Barack Obama a nominee in 2016.

"It's imperative that the president's nominee be considered fairly and not subjected to personal attacks," the long-serving Republican said, promising to hold a vote this fall.

Sen. Rand Paul told Fox News the circumstances are different.

"I would say it's completely different situation," the junior senator argued. "When Senator McConnell said we need to wait until after the election, it was a presidential election. The president gets to pick the Supreme Court."

Democrats immediately cried foul, calling McConnell’s stance hypocritical.  

Adam Edelen with the nonprofit Democratic New Kentucky Project tweeted that “we are living with the consequences of Democrats being disengaged and divided after primaries,” adding, “If we don’t learn from this moment we’re doomed to repeat it.”

Fourth District Congressman Thomas Massie said while the announcement gives conservatives "much to be excited about," it’s an “indication that too much authority has devolved to those nine people.”

Among the names floated as potential Trump picks was Amul Thapar,  who was named to the federal appeals bench in 2017. The Lexington Herald-Leader reports the possible high court contender has already drawn ads painting him as a "far right" judge who "authored a court decision that would allow wealthy donors to influence elections."