Heller: Justice Kennedy Will Step Down from Supreme Court This Summer

Justice Anthony Kennedy / Getty

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy will retire this coming summer, according to Sen. Dean Heller (R., Nev.).

Heller made the comments in audio Politico obtained from an event. Heller said that he believes a vacancy in the Supreme Court will bolster enthusiasm for voters. He is running for reelection this year in a state Hillary Clinton won in the 2016 presidential election.

"Kennedy is going to retire around sometime early summer," Heller said. "Which I’m hoping will get our base a little motivated because right now they’re not very motivated. But I think a new Supreme Court justice will get them motivated."

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Heller also predicted that Sen. Mike Lee (R., Utah) would be a candidate for Kennedy's vacant seat.

The 81-year-old Kennedy was nominated by President Ronald Reagan and was unanimously confirmed by the Senate in 1988. He has been regarded as a critical swing vote on decisions handed down by the court.

President Donald Trump has already appointed Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, filling the vacancy of the late Antonin Scalia.