Venerable civil rights organization NAACP issued the following statement regarding the announced retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy.
Justice Kennedy played a pivotal role on the Supreme Court for thirty years. He was the deciding vote in many close cases involving civil rights and civil liberties. Without his moderating influence, the balance on the Court could shift dramatically to the right.
This court has already undermined basic rights we all believed we enjoy as Americans—the right to strong unions that bargain collectively, one person one vote principles, redistricting, and regarding the right of women to make their own health care decisions.
The stakes for nominating a replacement could not be higher at any moment in our history.
The court serves as the guardian of our rights and liberties. The country desperately needs a fair-minded and independent jurist. Now is not the time for a divisive and biased appointment who will shake the public’s faith in the justice system.
The constitutional process for appointing and confirming the next justice must be careful, deliberative and conducted with bipartisan support. The Senate should not consider a nominee until a new Senate is seated next year. Moreover, the new Senate should ensure that the nominee have a demonstrated commitment to equal justice and civil rights. The names identified on Trump’s shortlist do not fit that bill. For the good of the American people, we urge that the President and the Senate to carefully exercise their respective roles under the Constitution in light of the consequential impact of this nomination on our democracy.
The NAACP and its members are committed to protecting the gains won through the sacrifices of our ancestors and to protecting civil rights for generations to come.
Our justice system—and indeed the very peace and tranquility of our nation—hang in the balance.
We will not go silently into the night. We can’t.