Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy to retire

WASHINGTON — Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy said he’s retiring, giving President Donald Trump the chance to cement conservative control of the high court.

The 81-year-old Kennedy said he is stepping down after more than 30 years on the court. A Republican appointee, he has held the key vote on such high-profile issues as abortion, affirmative action, gay rights, guns, campaign finance and voting rights.

Without him, the court will be split between four liberal justices who were appointed by Democratic presidents and four conservatives who were named by Republicans. Trump’s nominee is likely to give the conservatives a solid majority and will face a Senate process in which Republicans hold the slimmest majority, but Democrats can’t delay confirmation.

Trump’s first high court nominee, Justice Neil Gorsuch, was confirmed in April 2017.

Here’s a copy of the letter Kennedy sent to President Trump announcing his retirement.

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