Supreme Court justice's retirement is a gift for Donald Trump

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The retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy wasn't unexpected, but it has galvanized partisans who disagree on when the Senate should act on his replacement. "This could prove to be the most significant thing the Republican Senate does", Cruz said.

Kennedy, 81, was nominated in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan and served 30 years on the Supreme Court, where he was known as a centrist influence. Mike Lee, a close ally and, like himself, a former Supreme Court law clerk.

"I believe if Justice Scalia had not passed away when he did that there's a very good possibility Hillary Clinton would be President of the United States right now", Cruz said.

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A confirmation hearing usually happens about two months after a nomination is announced. "Most of us don't want to be governed by five unelected lawyers in Washington".

Cornyn also noted that in 2010, another midterm year, Democrats controlled the Senate and were perfectly happy to confirm an Obama nominee, Elena Kagan, to the high court.

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There are only nine justices, who only get replaced if they retire or die, so who sits on it really matters. "If there is a Supreme Court vacancy, it takes priority".

Reuters Graphics looked at how Kennedy and other judges ruled on major cases in the 2017-2018 term.

"We will be looking at the qualifications, the personal background of any nominee", Blumenthal said.

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"Remember this, so we have a pick to come up, we have to pick a great one", Trump said. "And the consequences for our nation couldn't be higher". But if the confirmation fight is all over by the time voters vote, will it still matter? "The seat should not be filled with someone who threatens or undermines voting rights, individual freedoms, or the balance of powers enshrined in our founding documents".

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