After a series of rulings just this week demonstrated how much damage a conservative majority on the Supreme Court can do to the rights of workers, women, and immigrants, Justice Anthony Kennedy announced on Wednesday that he is retiring, handing President Donald Trump a golden opportunity to push the nation's highest court even further to the right.
"With Justice Kennedy's retirement, Chuck Schumer and other Democrats will have to demonstrate a different level of political courage. It is not a time to play nice."
"This is not a drill," NARAL Pro-Choice America declared on Twitter following Kennedy's announcement, highlighting the fact that Trump's second Supreme Court pick will give conservatives the power to go after Roe v. Wade, which affirms the constitutional right to abortion.
"Trump and his anti-choice allies have already stolen one [Supreme Court] seat, and we've seen the devastating effects on our rights already," NARAL added. "Now, he'll get the chance to steal another."
Right now, our right to choose is hanging in the balance. Another Trump #SCOTUS nominee would overturn #RoevWade—Trump and his anti-choice allies are on record stating that this is their end goal. This is the moment that NARAL was made for. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.
— NARAL (@NARAL) June 27, 2018
While Kennedy was a conservative who had a hand in the court's most recent appalling rulings, he provided a crucial swing vote for the liberal side on issues like same-sex marriage and abortion access. Trump will now have an opportunity to replace that swing vote with one of the dozens of extremist, anti-choice judges he already has lined up.
"Time to get to work," Topher Spiro, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, wrote on Wednesday. "Roe v. Wade is in great peril. So are pre-existing condition protections and gay rights."
With Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) already aiming to confirm Kennedy's successor "this fall," activists are pressuring Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to deploy the same hard-ball tactics McConnell used to steal a Supreme Court nominee from former President Barack Obama.
"With Justice Kennedy's retirement, Chuck Schumer and other Democrats will have to demonstrate a different level of political courage," concluded Princeton University professor Eddie Glaude. "It is not a time to play nice."