What Does it Really Mean for Us That Anthony Kennedy is Leaving?

by Brian Moniz


With the recent announcement that Anthony Kennedy is retiring from the United States Supreme Court, Liberals, Democrats, Progressives, women, Muslims, Mexicans, African-Americans, and the LGBTQ community are in a serious panic. If Trump gets to pick a new justice, and he will, the Supreme Court of the United States is, without question, going to become plainly biased in his favor, and as nicely as I can put it — if Trump controls the Supreme Court, we’re all screwed.

Before dipping into Trump and his abuses of power, let’s review Anthony Kennedy.

He is often referred to as the only swing-voter in the group, with the rest of the judges often splitting 4–4. Kennedy was instrumental in swinging the vote in either direction in major landmark cases dealing with everything from legalizing gay marriage, affirmative action, the death penalty, campaign finances, free speech, and abortion. What makes me scratch my head as to why so many on the left are terrified is that, yes, while Kennedy was a swing voter, he’s still a very hard-right Conservative; maybe not as much as Clarence Thomas or Trump-puppet Neil Gorsuch, but he did stick to his conservative roots more often than swinging liberal. Let’s not forget that he is the justice who wrote Citizen’s United, which opened the floodgates in allowing major corporations and billionaires to donate extreme amounts of money to the candidate of their choosing, skewing elections unfairly in their favor.

Kennedy was a Conservative who, 95% of the time voted conservatively, and occasionally, went left, but it’s those “once in a while votes” that are more votes we will ever get than whoever Trump picks. We have already seen Justice Gorsuch vote against the people when he struck down unions last week, giving a sample of the damage he could do in the future to working-class people and minorities. The Left is also still outraged about Gorsuch, since he should be Merrick Garland. That Supreme Court pick was stolen from Obama by Republicans and Mitch McConnell in 2016 when he was denied is right, as the President, to nominate a new Justice.

The Left also worries that Trump is going to use this pick to confirm someone who will be loyal to him so that when the Mueller/Russia investigation ends, if there are damaging/impeachable charges against Trump, he will try to throw it to the Supreme Court…his Supreme Court, to protect him. This could turn into a fascist country with a king-like, dictator-wannabe who will refuse to give up power while his Justices swing court rulings in his favor for years to come. Trump should not be allowed to nominate a new justice until the Russia investigation is over. Period.

A little dose of reality to help ease the stress by anyone may be “too” outraged over Kennedy leaving should know that Trump replaced Antonin Scalia, a Conservative, with Neil Gorsuch, another Conservative. He is going to replace Anthony Kennedy, a Conservative, with another Conservative; granted it will be a much more far-right Conservative, but still a Conservative, nonetheless. It’s not as if two Liberal Justices like Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor are leaving and being replaced, Trump is just replacing two Conservatives with two more Conservatives. That doesn’t change the fear, however, that the Supreme Court is going to become a very partisan, right-wing Court instead of a mixed one. The 5–4 Conservative victories are going to come rolling in.

A glimmer of hope for Liberals regarding overturning abortion and same-sex marriage is that Chief Justice John Roberts has a tiny history of not voting to overturn past decisions. He is the one who will be least likely to vote to overturn abortion and LGBT rights in fear of public outrage. And recent polling has suggested that most Americans don’t want abortion or gay marriage overturned, anyway. Still…we’re looking at more power for Trump and Republicans and less justice and a voice for not just the Left, but working people, women, minorities, and anyone else who isn’t White, rich, Christian, and heterosexual.

All I have left to say is, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, please hold on as long as you can, and don’t retire until a Democrat is President, if we ever have one again.


About the Author:

Brian Moniz is a 29-year-old man from San Jose, Calif. He studied filmmaking and writing at San Jose State University from 2010–2013 and got his bachelor’s degree in Radio-TV-Film. Throughout his high school and college years, he worked as a music and movie journalist and critic. Having only recently come out of the closet himself in 2014, Brian enjoys writing about LGBTQ issues. His only regret when it comes to his sexuality is that he didn’t come out sooner. Read more by Brian here.