Justice Kennedy retirement sparks debate over new judge

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After Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement, a political debate is brewing on whether the Senate should wait until after midterm elections in November to confirm a new judge.

The 81-year-old will be retiring at the end of July, paving the way for President Donald Trump to name his second Supreme Court justice.

MORE: Expert: Kennedy’s retirement from Supreme Court could impact civil liberties

With the departure of Justice Kennedy, the Supreme Court will be split between four liberal justices and four conservatives.

Justice Kennedy was the more moderate conservative on the Supreme Court and was often the deciding vote on cases considered to be hot button issues.

Pace University law professor Emily Gold Waldman says Kennedy was one of the most significant judges, often acting as the fifth vote.

"He liked to write very philosophically," she says. "He would speak about people autonomy for them to have dignity in their personal choices, those words autonomy and dignity were often hallmarks of a Kennedy opinion."

RELATED: Justice Kennedy retiring; Trump gets 2nd Supreme Court pick

Democrats are arguing that the Republicans should follow the precedent they set in 1992 by refusing to vote on the nominee of outgoing President Barack Obama in 2016, and to wait until after the election.

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