Celebs dramatically react to Trump picking a new Supreme Court justice

With a second Supreme Court pick less than 18 months into his presidency, Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement will hand President Trump the reins to cement conservative control, fire up supporters eager for a rightward shift and shape US justice for decades to come.

Nominated by president Ronald Reagan, the 81-year-old Kennedy took his oath of office in 1988.

Here are the hurdles any nominee would have to clear to be confirmed. Although conservative, he sometimes joined the liberal wing of the court and authored landmark opinions on cases dealing with abortion, campaign finance and LGBT rights, including same-sex marriage. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has rejected that idea, even though in 2016 he refused to hold hearings in an election year for then-President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland. 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 previous year.

"I think this this decision will be seen by progressives and probably democrats across the board and certainly all labor people as yet another partisan decision", he said of Supreme Court ruling against unions.

Abortion is likely to be one of the flash points in the nomination fight.

Kennedy's retirement gives the Trump administration an opening to swing the balance of the court for decades.

CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin had a grim response Wednesday to the news that Justice Anthony Kennedy will be retiring this summer: "Roe v. Wade is doomed".

Kennedy called it the "highest of honors to serve on this Court", and he expressed his "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". If the Senate divides 50-50, Vice President Mike Pence could break a tie to confirm the nominee.

Now, the president gets to nominate Mr Kennedy's replacement.

  • Joey Payne