For evangelical Christian leaders like Jerry Falwell Jr., this is their political holy grail. "With so much at stake for the people of our country, the U.S. Senate must be consistent and consider the President's nominee once the new Congress is seated in January", Sen. But instead of celebrating publicly, some evangelical leaders are downplaying their fortune on an issue that has defined their movement for decades.
Soon after Kennedy made his announcement, Toobin tweeted his prediction that abortion would be illegal in 20 states within 18 months. Abortion rights, for instance, may be in significant peril; legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin predicted Wednesday that "abortion will be illegal in 20 states" in less than two years.
Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement and President Donald Trump's pledge to move quickly to fill the seat guarantee a searing summer of charged rhetoric that could touch on virtually every hot-button social and cultural issue in American politics.
Conservatives already have a 5-4 majority on the court. Among women of reproductive age, three out of four want the high court ruling left alone.
Kenneth Cuccinelli, a former Virginia attorney general who appeared alongside Toobin on CNN to discuss Kennedy's retirement, slightly disagreed with the scope of Toobin's assessment, but acknowledged it had a grain of truth.
Abortion is likely to be one of the flash points in the nomination fight.
Control over Supreme Court nominations has become a hot-button issue for the United States electorate, with 70 percent of respondents in a 2016 CNN poll saying it was an important factor in their vote.
Many evangelicals, for example, have lashed out against Obama-era laws that required churches and other religious institutions to provide their employees with women's reproductive services, including access to abortion and birth control.
In Alabama, Tom Parker, a Republican associate justice on the state Supreme Court who is campaigning to become the state's chief justice, explicitly raised the potential of sending cases to Washington that would lead to the overturning of key rulings, including Roe v. Wade.More news: Melania Trump's New Message Is Black and White
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Justice Anthony Kennedy announced Wednesday he would be retiring from the Supreme Court.
Corrections and clarifications: An earlier version of this story incorrectly quoted a portion of Sarah Field's statement about the attributes of a future Supreme Court justice.
Despite Trump's struggles with Christian values in his personal life at times, skeptical evangelical Christians lined up behind him in the 2016 election, and they remain one of his most loyal constituencies. Trump invited all five to the White House for a private meeting the day after Kennedy announced his retirement.
Trump's ability to pack the courts with conservative judges is a big reason many Republicans put up with the mercurial president. Trump promised he would. In 2000, he sided with the conservative justices who held that the Boy Scouts of America could ban gay adults from being scoutmasters.
The president's first high court nominee, Justice Neil Gorsuch, was confirmed in April 2017. The White House said Trump's team also spoke with more than a dozen additional senators.
A senior administration official such as Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump or Kellyanne Conway - if not Trump himself - has always been present, Moore added.
"The courts have been at the very center of the relationship", Moore said. Come fall, when the Senate plans to vote on his successor, progressives fear a more ideologically conservative candidate will enter the court.
Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, the senior Democrat on the judiciary panel's constitution subcommittee, said she expects Trump's nominee to be "intent on carrying out the right-wing ideology of the president and his most extreme supporters".
In her dissent to the majority's ruling on the travel ban, Sotomayor compared the decision to the Korematsu v.