Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy said on Wednesday he plans to retire after three decades as a pivotal vote on the highest U.S. judicial body, giving President Donald Trump an opportunity to make the court more firmly conservative.

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, REUTERS/Carlos Barria

The conservative Kennedy, who turns 82 in July and is the second-oldest justice on the nine-member court, has become one of the most consequential American jurists since joining the court in 1988 as an appointee of Republican President Ronald Reagan. He proved instrumental in advancing gay rights, buttressing abortion rights and erasing political spending limits. His retirement takes effect on July 31, the court said.

“It has been the greatest honor and privilege to serve our nation in the federal judiciary for 43 years, 30 of those years on the Supreme Court,” Kennedy said in a statement.

The statement issued by the court said that Kennedy’s decision was motivated by his decision to spend more time with his family.

Kennedy is a traditional conservative who sometimes joined the liberal justices on key rulings, earning a reputation as the court’s “swing” vote who heartened conservatives and liberals alike, depending on the issue. –Reuters

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Kennedy joined the other conservative Justices on the court this week in their decision to uphold President Trump’s travel ban.

President Trump just told the press they will immediately begin the search for Kennedy’s replacement. Trump called Justice Kennedy a “spectacular man” :

Donald Trump Jr. “lit” up Twitter with his response to the announcement:

Former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain asks, “Hey Democrats, how’s your week going? #MAGA”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell just announced they will confirm Kennedy’s replacement this fall:

Fox News’ John Roberts points out that Trump will have the opportunity now to cement a 5-4 conservative majority in the US Supreme Court for years to come.

As expected, the left is inconsolable:

As usual, it’s all about keeping the killing of babies legal in America…

And…killing babies…

Liberals are attempting use Kennedy’s retirement as a way to get Democrat voters to the polls:

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