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Grassley, Smith Weigh-In On Kennedy's Supreme Court Retirement

June 27, 2018 11:16 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- A key member of the U.S. Supreme Court announced his retirement Wednesday, setting up a battle that could change the makeup of the court for years to come.

Justice Anthony Kennedy said after 30 years on the bench, he's looking forward to spending more time with his family after he hangs up his robes at the end of July.

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Lawmakers on both sides said the 81-year-old Kennedy, who took the bench in 1988 after being nominated by President Reagan, will be missed.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R - Iowa, the chair of the Senate Judicial Committee that will consider Kennedy's replacement, called the justice a staunch defender of the first amendment.

"He is an outstanding person of intellect and hard-working person—he has written a lot of outstanding opinions," Grassley told reporters outside his office Wednesday.

Sen. Tina Smith, D - Minn., meanwhile, called Kennedy a strong moderate on the bench.

"I am urging the president to put forth a nominee that reflects that bipartisanship, a person who can get strong support on both sides of the aisle," she said.

The announcement is expected to have wide-reaching effects on the court since Kennedy was often the deciding vote on major issues like same-sex marriage and abortion, prompting many to wonder who President Trump may choose to nominate.

"It is probably going to be somebody who has judicial experience already," Hamline University political science and law professor David Schultz told our sister station KSTP. "I'm expecting to see somebody is also a district court judge or a federal court of appeals judge. It will probably be somebody who has pretty good conservative credentials again whether it is economic issues, political issues."

Trump is expected to nominate a successor from a list of 25 potential justices the White House put forth in 2017. Two of those potential nominees are from Iowa, while another is from Minnesota.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he expects lawmakers to vote to confirm the president's pick this fall.

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Logan Reigstad

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