Anthony Kennedy: US Supreme Court judge to retire in July
Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy is set to retire, giving President Donald Trump the chance to cement a conservative majority on the top court.
The conservative has been a pivotal vote on many decisions including the 5-4 rulings that decided same-sex marriage and upheld abortion rights.
In his letter to Mr Trump, Justice Kennedy expressed “profound gratitude” for having served in the highest court.
Justice Kennedy, 81, will retire on 31 July, per his letter to Mr Trump.
He is the second oldest justice on the nine-member 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,” Justice Kennedy wrote.
Justice Kennedy was nominated by President Ronald Reagan and he began his term in 1988.
He penned the Supreme Court’s first major gay-rights decision in 1996, protecting LGBT Americans from discrimination.
In 2015, he authored the landmark opinion which gave LGBT citizens the right to marry.
During a meeting with Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa at the White House, President Trump said he would select a nominee to replace Justice Kennedy from a list of 25 potential court candidates that his campaign had compiled during the election.
Mr Trump called Justice Kennedy “a great justice” who “displayed great vision [and] tremendous heart”.
He said the process to replace him would “begin immediately”.
“Hopefully we will pick someone who is just as outstanding”.
The White House also released a statement thanking Justice Kennedy for his 30 years of service as a “tireless voice for individual rights”.
“His words have left an indelible mark not only on this generation, but on the fabric of American history.”