Vulnerable GOP Senator Predicts SCOTUS Retirement

Dean Heller says Justice Anthony Kennedy will retire 'sometime early summer'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 9, 2018 11:59 AM CST
In this Aug. 22, 2017, file photo, Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev. speaks at the Lake Tahoe Summit in South Lake Tahoe, Calif.   (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

(Newser) – Dean Heller doesn't exactly have the safest seat in the US Senate, and he might not even make it to the midterms if he doesn't beat GOPer Danny Tarkanian in the Nevada primaries in June, per the Hill. But in audio obtained by Politico from a Las Vegas event last week, Heller seems to be clinging to one prospect as a glimmer of hope: the stepping down of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. "Kennedy is going to retire around sometime early summer," Heller said during a Q&A with the J. Reuben Clark Law Society on Friday. "Which I'm hoping will get our base a little motivated because right now they're not very motivated. But I think a new Supreme Court justice will get them motivated."

Who Heller thinks would make the short list to replace Kennedy: Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, who hasn't commented yet on Heller's take. The Hill notes Kennedy, appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1988, is seen as the "most pivotal justice on the Supreme Court"; his stepping down would give President Trump another opening for a conservative justice. Not everyone is buying Heller's prediction, though. In an Above the Law post, Elie Mystal calls it an "epic example of wishcasting," noting Heller has offered "no evidence" on Kennedy's retirement. He notes that the fact that Kennedy has already put in place his clerks for the 2018-2019 term, while "not a guarantee," is "more evidence that he's staying than anything Dean Heller has in the opposite direction."

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