How Donald Trump Organized the Secret Campaign That Convinced Anthony Kennedy To Retire

President Donald Trump applauds after Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, right, administered the judicial oath to Justice Neil Gorsuch, with wife Marie Louise, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Monday, April 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump applauds after Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, right, administered the judicial oath to Justice Neil Gorsuch, with wife Marie Louise, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Monday, April 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)



In the wake of Anthony Kennedy’s decision to retire from the US Supreme Court, the left is doing a frantic post-mortem on how they could possibly have overlooked the notion that an 81-year-old man might want to retire. The real subject deserving of a post-mortem is why they thought they could rule indefinitely through an increasingly SJW-oriented Supreme Court instead of by winning elections, but that isn’t happening and it isn’t going to.

But, given the left’s penchant for promoting conspiracy theories (see the Mueller investigation, for instance), the working hypothesis now is that Trump flattered Kennedy into retirement. The Patient Zero in this is a New York Times story titled: Inside the White House’s Quiet Campaign to Create a Supreme Court Opening. Read the headline again. And take a moment to think about the number of things this administration has ever managed to keep quiet, much less completely below the radar. Right? I don’t remember that happening either.

President Trump singled him out for praise even while attacking other members of the Supreme Court. The White House nominated people close to him to important judicial posts. And members of the Trump family forged personal connections.

Their goal was to assure Justice Anthony M. Kennedy that his judicial legacy would be in good hands should he step down at the end of the court’s term this week, as he was rumored to be considering…

This is the evidence:

When Mr. Trump took office last year, he already had a Supreme Court vacancy to fill, the one created by the 2016 death of Justice Antonin Scalia. But Mr. Trump dearly wanted a second vacancy, one that could transform the court for a generation or more. So he used the first opening to help create the second one. He picked Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, who had served as a law clerk to Justice Kennedy, to fill Justice Scalia’s seat.

And when Justice Gorsuch took the judicial oath in April 2017 at a Rose Garden ceremony, Justice Kennedy administered it — after Mr. Trump first praised the older justice as “a great man of outstanding accomplishment.”

“Throughout his nearly 30 years on the Supreme Court,” Mr. Trump said, “Justice Kennedy has been praised by all for his dedicated and dignified service.”


Let’s see. The President praising a Supreme Court Justice who is guest of honor at the swearing in of another Justice doesn’t seem all that convincing. And there were articles long before the election highlighting Neil Gorsuch as a strong contender for the open SCOTUS seat. Like this from September 2016.

And this:

In the meantime, as the White House turned to stocking the lower courts, it did not overlook Justice Kennedy’s clerks. Mr. Trump nominated three of them to federal appeals courts: Judges Stephanos Bibas and Michael Scudder, both of whom have been confirmed, and Eric Murphy, the Ohio solicitor general, whom Mr. Trump nominated to the Sixth Circuit this month.

And, of course, no Maggie Haberman story on Trump can truly be complete without a hint of financial shenanigans.

But they had a connection, one Mr. Trump was quick to note in the moments after his first address to Congress in February 2017. As he made his way out of the chamber, Mr. Trump paused to chat with the justice.

“Say hello to your boy,” Mr. Trump said. “Special guy.”

Mr. Trump was apparently referring to Justice Kennedy’s son, Justin. The younger Mr. Kennedy spent more than a decade at Deutsche Bank, eventually rising to become the bank’s global head of real estate capital markets, and he worked closely with Mr. Trump when he was a real estate developer, according to two people with knowledge of his role.

During Mr. Kennedy’s tenure, Deutsche Bank became Mr. Trump’s most important lender, dispensing well over $1 billion in loans to him for the renovation and construction of skyscrapers in New York and Chicago at a time other mainstream banks were wary of doing business with him because of his troubled business history.


I don’t even know how that fits into the equation. By tossing it into the article there is an unstated implication that Kennedy’s son managing the loan portfolio of Trump before he ever thought of running for president somehow resulted in Kennedy retiring. But the favor done here, if a favor was done, was by the younger Kennedy to Trump. But the progressives will tell us what it means.


Moreover, for this story to be true you’d have to conclude that the past 18 months of stories about the incompetence and ineptitude of Trump and his inner circle were total bullsh** because the Trump that the NYT writes about every day simply could not do this.

There is a much easier explanation. Kennedy was 81. He wanted to retire. The judicial nominees made by the Trump White House convinced him that they wouldn’t try to put Harriet Miers Michael Cohen on the bench. So he felt secure in retiring.


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