A traditional conservative, he advanced gay rights, reinforced abortion rights and erased political spending limits.
Justice Kennedy sometimes joined the liberal justices on key rulings, earning a reputation as the court's "swing" vote who heartened conservatives and liberals alike, depending on the issue. Trump said his search for a Supreme Court nominee will "begin immediately" and he intends to make his selection from a list of more than 20 reliably conservative candidates the White House released a year ago.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) appeared on "Fox & Friends" on Thursday to react to the impending retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. The search, the president said, will begin immediately, and Kennedy's replacement will be chosen from the list of 25 candidates he considered past year, when he ultimately chose Gorsuch.
Legal experts and lawmakers predict that Kennedy's departure could mean major changes in the nation's legal landscape when it comes to civil rights, environmental enforcement, voting rights, and particularly the protections flowing from Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion. If the Senate divides 50-50, Vice President Mike Pence could break a tie to confirm the nominee. "There are times to fight and this is one of them".
But several former law clerks said that Kennedy, a nominee of President Ronald Reagan, prefers to be replaced by a Republican.
Cruz was responding to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's call for the "Biden rule" to be used, which would delay a nomination until after the November midterm elections.
Kennedy's vote, positioned at the very centre of the court, gives him a place of special prominence among the nine justices.