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One word comes to mind when reading Justice Kennedy’s retirement letter to Trump

One word comes to mind when reading Justice Kennedy’s retirement letter to Trump
[Photo: Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States/Wikimedia Commons; Flickr user Gage Skidmore]

Civility has been a contentious topic over the last few days, but “civil” is about the best word to describe Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s letter to President Trump announcing his plans to retire next month. Actually, I can think of a few other words, too—scary and sad, for instance.

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Kennedy’s exit is not a complete shock, but his decision to leave at this particular moment will, in all likelihood, profoundly tip the scales on SCOTUS court rulings for the foreseeable future. Really, it’s impossible to overstate the impact this could have. Will have.

At the same time, since we can’t seem to agree on whether we need more civility or less of it these days, I’ll leave you with the full text of Kennedy’s very civil letter below. If you read carefully between the lines, you can almost make out the anguish. Or maybe that’s just me projecting.

My dear Mr. President,

This letter is a respectful and formal notification of my decision, effective July 31 of this year, to end my regular active status as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, while continuing to serve in a senior status, as provided in 28 U.S.C 371 (b).

For a member of the legal profession it is the highest of honors to serve on this Court. Please permit me by this letter to express my 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.

Respectfully and sincerely,

Anthony M. Kennedy

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