Senior Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Anthony McLeod Kennedy, received his seat on the highest court in the land via President Ronald Reagan on February 18, 1988. Thirty years is a long time to serve. At 81 years old, Justice Kennedy is the last Reagan appointee on the bench and currently the longest serving member of the Supreme Court.
Republican Senator Dean Heller of Nevada thinks that timeline presents an opportunity for his precarious senate reelection campaign. Senator Heller predicts Justice Kennedy will retire this summer. And Heller thinks his prediction should drive Republicans to the polls.
Heller spoke at the J. Reuben Clark Law Society in Las Vegas Friday. In an audio recording from the event, the Senator made several statements about the upcoming 2018 midterm elections. He spoke about what Republicans, mostly focusing on himself, need to do to win in November.
“I’m not going to sit here and criticize him,” Heller remarked on President Donald Trump. “…I don’t want to get too far in front of some of these policies.”
Republicans and political analysts credit the Supreme Court vacancy in 2016 for keeping the Senate in GOP control and creating the Trump presidency. President Barack Obama nominated a replacement, but the GOP led Congress stalled for longer than any appointment in history ensuring Obama would not seat another SCOTUS justice.
The Nevada senator, facing serious threats in his reelection bid, hopes lightning strikes twice and a SCOTUS retirement will lead to his victory.
Kennedy is going to retire around sometime early summer. Which I’m hoping will get our base a little motivated because right now they’re not very motivated. But I think a new Supreme Court justice will get them motivated.”
However Heller neglects to recognize an important difference between 2016 and 2018 and how the Supreme Court fills vacancies. The 2016 elections GOP surge hinged on the idea of a Democrat appointing the next Supreme Court Justice. Republican leadership used that threat to gain votes for themselves on the coattails of the presidency.
But that free ride isn’t available in 2018 however. The presidency currently resides in Republican hands. Regardless of Heller’s return to the senate or replacement by someone else, a Republican will still fill the next open SCOTUS vacancy until 2021 when the next president would be sworn into office.
Others are pointing out the errors in Heller’s logic and questioning the validity of his claims regarding Justice Kennedy. Are they an accurate prediction or just a political ploy?
Dean Heller doesn’t know if Justice Kennedy is retiring or not.
Heller just knows he’s going to lose his re-election bid due to the impending blue wave.
He’s trying to motivate the same religious zealots who held their nose and voted Trump to get Gorsuch.
— Adam Best (@adamcbest) March 9, 2018
Justice Kennedy already hired law clerks. Dean Heller is afraid he will lose his seat. Even if he actually knows something, and isn’t just trying to stir up his base, we must #VoteBlueNoMatterWho. We have to #FlipItBlue . https://t.co/9qTKjKfJlI
— #GoNancyGo W (@ncw413) March 9, 2018
While Senator Heller may be correct about Justice Kennedy retiring this Summer, I have my doubts that he has any more information than anyone else does.
It’s likely a move to fire up the GOP base. Instead, let’s make sure it further Fires up the Democrats to VOTE IN NOVEMBER!!
— Brian Krassenstein🐬 (@krassenstein) March 9, 2018
A report coming from Sen. Dean Heller out of Las Vegas, claims SCOTUS Justice Kennedy will retire this summer.
If true, this BIG shakeup will give President Trump another GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY to appoint a staunch conservative. https://t.co/AINr7F30OS
— Zing (@zingars) March 9, 2018
Roe v. Wade & many, many, many other Supreme Court precedents could be at stake if Senator Heller is right that Justice Kennedy will retire this summer.
(Heller said behind closed doors he hopes vacancy energizes GOP base, per audio obtained by Politico.)https://t.co/XSKL6OTqeq
— Steven Dennis (@StevenTDennis) March 9, 2018
Don’t feed into Dean Heller’s attempts to stir up his base.
He wants to spread rumors about Justice Kennedy retiring to motivate them.
He literally says it on the recording.
— Red T Raccoon (@RedTRaccoon) March 9, 2018
Scoop: Sen. Heller predicts Justice Kennedy will retire this summer, “Which I’m hoping will get our base a little motivated because right now they’re not very motivated, he says on audio obtained by Politico. (Clarified tweet) https://t.co/hZlIix3g39
— Burgess Everett (@burgessev) March 9, 2018
Dean Heller does not have any more information than you or me about whether Anthony Kennedy will retire. https://t.co/MAHaKL92mm
— Sam Baker (@sam_baker) March 9, 2018
Alt: Dean Heller HOPES Justice Kennedy will retire so Heller can use that to keep seat
“Dean Heller knows he’s the most vulnerable Republican senator in the country. But he thinks Supreme Court Justice Kennedy might just help him hang on to his seat. ” https://t.co/UHG78WUGty
— Sarah Reese Jones (@PoliticusSarah) March 9, 2018