Trump called Kennedy a man "of tremendous vision" and said he hopes the next justice will be "just as outstanding".
The 81-year-old Kennedy said today he is stepping down after more than 30 years on the court.
Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durban asked McConnell to delay the confirmation vote to "give the American people their say in the upcoming election before court vacancies are filled". 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. His first justice, Neil Gorsuch, has not yet ruled on abortion's legality but is generally embraced by pro-life advocates. 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.
Electoral considerations could also apply pressure on some centrist Democrats to vote for whomever Trump decides to nominate.
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In a letter to Trump released earlier today, Kennedy wrote this expressing gratitude for his tenure on the nation's highest court: "For a member of the legal profession, it is the highest of honors to serve on this court". He has cast multiple votes both protecting legal abortion and affirming the homosexual agenda, though he has also signaled openness to some abortion restrictions.
Interest groups across the political spectrum are expected to mobilize to support and fight the nomination because it is so likely to push the court to the right.
Republicans now hold a bare 51-49 majority in the Senate, although that includes the ailing Senator John McCain of Arizona. John McCain (R-Ariz.) undergoes treatment for a severe form of brain cancer. He was confirmed on a 50-47 vote.
But Fox News identified five names from the list who are considered frontrunners.
The president, who met with the justice at the White House Wednesday, said he asked Kennedy if he had any recommendations on who should take over his spot on the high court. And now President Trump will replace him with a judge who will nearly certainly be more right-wing than Kennedy, decisively tipping the balance toward the court's conservative faction. He proved instrumental in advancing gay rights, buttressing abortion rights and erasing political spending limits.
For Sharif, the court's Tuesday ruling elevates what she sees as ongoing nationwide anti-immigration, anti-Muslim rhetoric that she's been fighting since she first became politically active during the presidential campaign in 2016.