President Donald Trump on Wednesday praised retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy — calling him "a man who has displayed tremendous vision and tremendous heart" — and saying that the search for his replacement would begin immediately.
"He is a man that I've known for a long time and a man that I've respected for a long time," Trump told reporters in the Oval Office before a meeting with Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa. "He's been a great justice of the Supreme Court.
"He will be missed," the president added. "We will begin our search for a new justice of the United States Supreme Court that will begin immediately.
"Hopefully, we're going to pick somebody who will be as outstanding," Trump said. "So, I just want to thank Justice Kennedy for the years of tremendous service."
Kennedy, 81, who was nominated in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan, said his retirement would take effect at the end of July — giving Trump the second chance to name a Supreme Court justice and further solidify its conservative majority.
Though he was appointed by a Republican, Kennedy has held the critical swing vote on such high-profile issues as abortion, affirmative action, gay rights, guns, campaign finance and voting rights.
Kennedy will retire as senior associate Supreme Court justice.
In April, President Trump created a 5-4 conservative majority when federal appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch replaced Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, who died last year.
Trump told reporters Wednesday that he would choose a replacement from a list of 25 candidates that he had begun to develop during his presidential campaign.
"We have a very excellent list of great, talented, highly educated, highly intelligent, hopefully tremendous people," the president said. "I think the list is very outstanding."
That list included 24 judges and Utah Sen. Mike Lee, according to news reports.
Others included federal appeals court judges Thomas Hardiman of Pennsylvania and William Pryor of Alabama, both of whom were seriously considered to succeed Scalia, and Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who serves on the federal appeals court in Washington.
Trump stopped briefly from fielding questions to introduce President Rebelo de Sousa, telling him that "in our country, the selection of a justice of the United States Supreme Court is considered — I think, we can all say — one of the most important events, one of the most important things for our country."
Noting the rulings the justices handed down this week alone, Trump continued: "You see the decisions that just came down, how big they are, how vital they are.
"They can swing different ways, depending on who might be on the court.
"It has always been considered a tremendously important thing."
© 2022 Newsmax. All rights reserved.