With Congress at a standstill and the White House in a constant state of disarray, Donald Trump really only has one notable achievement since becoming President — appointing a Supreme Court justice.
The untimely death of Justice Antonin Scalia (and some grade-A shenanigans by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell) allowed Trump to pick a replacement, Neil Gorsuch, and pass him through a Republican-controlled Senate. It was a significant achievement for Trump and a huge win for conservatives. Gorsuch turned out to be as conservative as his backers had hoped, even landing to the right of the notoriously conservative Scalia.
With the border wall still unfunded, health-care reform in tatters (after multiple repeal attempts), and a rocky start to tax reform, Trump is in desperate need of another win. Could he be gifted with another Supreme Court opening?
Justice Anthony Kennedy, 81, has been rumored to be considering retirement for some time. Kennedy’s absence would have a huge impact on the Supreme Court. With four justices to his left and the other four to his right, Kennedy is often the deciding vote when it comes to polarizing issues. His retirement would allow Trump and the Republicans to appoint a more conservative justice and swing the court rightward.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 84, is another justice to keep an eye on. The “Notorious R.B.G” is an icon of the court’s liberal wing. She’s battled cancer twice and has faced a few health issues in the past, but she seems to be doing pretty well now. Under Trump, there’s no way she’ll willingly retire. If she were to leave the Supreme Court, it would be a huge gift to the Republicans.
Other than Kennedy and Ginsburg, Clarence Thomas is the only other justice with a decent chance of leaving the court in Trump’s first term. It would be hard to find a judge more conservative than Thomas, so his absence wouldn’t be as much of a blessing for conservatives. All it would allow them to do is appoint a younger conservative justice.
Between that trio, there’s a reasonable chance that another spot will open up within Donald Trump’s first term. All he has to do is remain in office, which in itself is no guarantee.
Supreme Court Odds
Odds Trump appoints a second Supreme Court justice: 3/4
Odds on the next justice to leave the Supreme Court:
Anthony Kennedy (age 81): 1/1
Ruth Bader Ginsburg (age 84): 3/1
Clarence Thomas (age 69): 17/3
Stephen Breyer (age 79): 39/1
Elena Kagan (age 57): 49/1
Sonia Sotomayor (age 63): 49/1
Samuel Alito (age 67): 197/3
John Roberts (age 62): 99/1
Neil Gorsuch (age 50): 99/1