Conservatives say the looming Supreme Court battle boosts their midterm prospects

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President Reagan nominated Kennedy to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1987 following a stint on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

In a statement issued after the verdict, President Trump declared the Supreme Court judgement a "profound vindication" and said he would continue to defend the "sovereignty, safety and security of the American people and fight for an immigration system that serves the national interest of the United States and its citizens".

Despite the Republican majority, Sherrilyn Ifill of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund says she's confident senators can be persuaded to hold off.

"The Senate stands ready to fulfill its Constitutional role by offering advice and consent on President Trump's nominee to fill this vacancy", McConnell said.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell had blocked Garland's nomination on grounds 2016 was a presidential election year, and the new president should have the opportunity to pick a justice. "Their voices deserve to be heard then". Planned Parenthood, in which the Supreme Court ruled that states can not place an "undue burden" on patients seeking abortion.

Kennedy will step down officially at the end of next month, on July 31.

Trump says he thinks that is "inappropriate to discuss". He was on the short list to succeed with now Justice Neil Gorsuch to succeed the late Justice Antonin Scalia. If there was a catalyst for Republicans to throw their lots in with Trump, it was the idea that he might have a chance to remake the Supreme Court in a more conservative image - even if he was in office only for four years.

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Control over Supreme Court nominations has become a hot-button issue for the U.S. electorate, with 70 percent of respondents in a 2016 CNN poll saying it was an important factor in their vote.

CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin predicted on Wednesday that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announcing his retirement and vacating a spot for President Donald Trump to fill meant Roe v. Wade, the landmark case establishing the right to abortion access, was "doomed".

McConnell added that he looks forward to another "outstanding selection" from Trump.

Regardless of who replaces him, Kennedy's departure will be a massive change for the high court, where he has been the crucial swing vote for more than a decade.

Otherwise, after Republicans eliminated the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations past year by invoking the so-called "nuclear option" to confirm Gorsuch, Democrats would need to convince at least two Republicans to deny Trump his nomination.

He said that "Americans should make it clear" they will not tolerate any nominee from Trump's list of possible Supreme Court candidates.

Kennedy's news that he'll leave the court next month immediately activated a network of White House aides, congressional allies and outside advocates, all set for their second Supreme Court confirmation fight in two years.

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Kennedy has always been considered the swing vote on the court between the liberal and conservative justices. It's highly unlikely that Kennedy's successor will be in his tradition of a more moderate, center-right influence on the court's conservative wing.

He said he will select someone from this list.

"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.

It's also hard to overstate how important the possibility of multiple Supreme Court openings was to the grudging acceptance of Trump's candidacy by a Republican establishment that anxious, at least initially, that his nomination could destroy their party for years (and maybe even decades) to come.

The conservative Koch network's political arm, Americans For Prosperity, promised to invest more than $1 million on a broader campaign to support Trump's pick on the ground in key states, according to spokesman James Davis.

However, he voted with the majority to uphold women's abortion rights established in the Roe v. Wade decision, and he cast the deciding vote in striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman.

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