Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy to retire

President Trump has opportunity to nominate a second conservative candidate to the Supreme Court as long-time justice retires.

Gary Willig ,

Justice Anthony Kennedy
Justice Anthony Kennedy

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement Wednesday.

Justice Kennedy will step down on July 31 after serving on the Supreme Court for 30 years. He is 81 years old.

“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,” the justice said in a statement.

He wrote a letter informing US President Donald Trump of his retirement. “My dear Mr. President,” Kennedy wrote. “For a member of the legal profession it is the highest of honor to serve on this court. Please permit me by this letter to express my profound gratitude for having had the privilege to seek in each case how best to know, interpret and defend the Constitution and the laws that must always conform to its mandates and promises.”

His retirement gives President Trump the opportunity to nominate another candidate for the Supreme Court after the Senate confirmed his nomination of Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court last year.

Trump said that he would "immediately" appoint someone to compile a list of 25 possible candidates to succeed Justice Kennedy.

Kennedy, who was nominated by President Ronald Reagan in 1988, often served as the swing vote in Supreme Court decisions. This week, he voted with the majority in two narrow 5-4 decisions, including the court's decision to uphold President Trump's travel ban on seven nations.