Donald Trump Made Justice Kennedy an Offer He Couldn’t Refuse | Vanity Fair
Inside the White House, however, news of Kennedy’s retirement didn’t come as a shock. In fact, as The New York Times reports, the 81-year-old’s announcement was the culmination of a carefully orchestrated 17-month campaign by the Trump administration to remake the Supreme Court before the 2018 midterms, when there is an outside chance that Republicans could lose their majority. For conservatives, Kennedy’s seat was seen as one of they keys to rolling back abortion rights—on the campaign trail, Trump pledged to appoint a justice who would overturn Roe v. Wade. But first, Trump had to demonstrate to Kennedy that he could be trusted to nominate quality jurists to the Supreme Court. The campaign was multifaceted: over the course of several months, Trump systematically nominated three of Kennedy’s former clerks for plum judicial posts. While he criticized other, more conservative members of the court, he lavished praise on Kennedy—despite the fact that the justice has been pilloried by the right for his votes on social issues. And he cultivated a relationship with Justice Kennedy’s son, Justin, who worked closely with the Trump Organization in his role at Deutsche Bank as the global head of real-estate capital markets, according to the Times.
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The overtures continued outside the White House. Ivanka Trump reportedly took Kennedy to lunch shortly after the inauguration and brought her daughter Arabella Kushner to the Supreme Court to hear oral arguments as special guest of Kennedy shortly after. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, who serves as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, went on conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt’s radio show last month to implore the court’s aging judges, “If you’re thinking about quitting this year, do it yesterday.”