The Supreme Court speculation season is accelerating.
Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt told listeners Wednesday morning that according to his sources, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito is considering retiring.
This came immediately after a Washington Post report saying Judge Clarence Thomas “is privately viewed by Trump’s aides as the one most likely to retire this year,” although he has given no indication to do so.
Hewitt mentioned the Alito rumor on his show while speaking to the author of that article, Robert Costa, who had also written about the Conservatives’ disappointment with the decisions in which Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the judges. court liberals. Costa noted that President Trump and Vice President Pence have cited the recent cases as proof that more conservative judges are needed, as he discussed rumors of potential contenders if Thomas resigned.
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“The strongest rumor is that Judge Alito will resign. Judge Thomas will never resign,” Hewitt replied.
Alito is 70 years old, so if he retires he could be replaced by a much younger judge who theoretically would have decades on the court ahead.
But it is unclear if the rumor is just that. Others doubt that Thomas or Alito will withdraw.
“I wouldn’t bet a lot of money on either of those possibilities,” a person familiar with the court told Fox News.
Any impending withdrawal would be risky for conservatives in the election year. If the current Republican-controlled Senate fails to fill a vacancy on time, Republicans are at risk of having the next candidate elected by a Democrat if Joe Biden wins the presidency. Also, Senate Republicans are far from guaranteed to have a majority in the house next year.
Costa’s report noted how the White House and Senate Republicans are allegedly preparing for a possible Supreme Court vacancy, but that was in reference to speculation that Thomas could resign.
A Trump external political adviser reportedly told Costa that if a vacancy arose, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, would be ready to act quickly to confirm the candidate. One of his favorites is allegedly 6th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Amul Thapar, who previously served as the United States Federal District Judge and Prosecutor in McConnell’s home state.
Hewitt also named several possible replacements for Alito, including 6th Circuit Judge Raymond Kethledge, who had been considered a strong candidate in the past.
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The sense of urgency for a new conservative justice came after Roberts sided with liberal judges in recent cases that guaranteed protection from employment discrimination to the LGBT community, rejected the Trump administration’s attempt to rescind DACA and reversed a Louisiana law that restricted abortion by only allowing people with admission privileges at a nearby hospital to perform the procedure.
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Roberts sided with the Conservatives on Tuesday, when he authored the opinion in a decision 5-4 that allowed religious institutions in Montana to participate in a private school scholarship program.