Justice Sonia Sotomayor Used Trump's Tweets in Her Travel Ban Dissent

CBS News

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his resignation from the nation's highest court Wednesday, sparking immediate reaction from politicians, journalists and commentators across the political spectrum.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor slammed the Supreme Court's decision to uphold President Donald Trump's travel ban in an impassioned dissenting opinion that contended the ruling failed to "safeguard" the principle of religious neutrality embedded in the First Amendment. Kennedy has traditionally been a pivotal swing vote, and his replacement could be much more conservative.

Trump could add more countries to the list. The other decides the president, who gets to make that pick. Trump's nominee is likely to give the conservatives a solid majority and will face a Senate process in which Republicans hold the slimmest majority, but Democrats can't delay confirmation.

Senate Democrats are demanding that McConnell hold off on confirming someone until after the midterm elections, hoping that they will take back the Senate and force Trump to make a more moderate pick.

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.

She accused those who voted to uphold the travel ban of "completely" setting "aside the President's charged statements about Muslims".

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Republicans now hold a bare 51-49 majority in the Senate, although that includes the ailing Sen. He has sided with the liberal justices on gay rights and abortion rights, as well as some cases involving race, the death penalty and the rights of people detained without charges at the Guantanamo Bay naval base.

Fox News correspondent John Roberts said there are a few other names on the list that stick out as favorites, including District of Columbia Appeals Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

He also has been a key vote when conservatives have won major rulings on the outcome of the 2000 presidential election in favor of George W. Bush, gun rights, limiting regulation of campaign money and gutting a key provision of the landmark federal Voting Rights Act. If Democrats stand united in opposition to Trump's choice, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky can lose no more than one vote. On Wednesday, he joined his fellow conservatives in a 5-4 ruling that dealt a major setback to organized labor by shutting off a key union revenue source. "We express no view on the soundness of the policy", the chief justice wrote.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who signed onto the majority opinion, wrote a separate concurring opinion saying that while the courts can't necessarily police all of the words of government officials, they should be careful not to go too far.

Tuesday's court decision means the ban will remain in effect.

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