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KU professor says Kennedy retirement is not a big surprise

Nick Gosnell
Thursday, June 28, 2018

Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the U.S. Supreme Court announced on Wednesday marks the second such vacancy to be filled by President Donald Trump. The circumstances between the two are different, however.

“I think that Justice Scalia would have hung on, but he passed,” said Lumen “Lou” Mulligan, Director of the Shook, Hardy and Bacon Center for Excellence in Advocacy at the University of Kansas. “I don’t think that Scalia had any intention of ever retiring. Justice Kennedy is 81 years old and had been serving as a federal judge since 1975 and has been on the United States Supreme Court since 1988. He had hinted to people in Washington for about the last 18 
months that he was ready to retire. I don’t think this is a big surprise.”

President Trump has been transparent about his desire to fill the court with conservative judges as much as he can.

“President Trump has taken a unusual step of, during his campaign and then he updated it again in November of 2017, of publishing a list of 25 people who he says, I’m going to choose my next Supreme Court justice off of this list of 25 people,” said Mulligan.

One person on that list has Kansas ties.

“David Stras is on that list of 25,” said Mulligan. “He’s a University of Kansas undergraduate and law school alumnus and currently sits on the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in the Twin Cities.”

Stras is a Wichita native and he’s just 43 years old, which is in keeping with Trump’s penchant for appointing young lawyers to the federal bench.

“President Trump has been appointing people in their early 40s and in their 30s to federal judicial seats and with the theory that those individuals will hold those seats for a very long time,” said Mulligan. “Here in Kansas, we have a judge who will be officially appointed here soon, Holly Teter, to the federal trial court bench. She’s in her late 30s.”

It remains to be seen who Trump will pick from the list, but the U.S. Senate intends to bring the nominee forward quickly to try to get an approval before the next Supreme Court session in October.

Faculty name: 
Lumen Mulligan