With a second Supreme Court pick less than 18 months into his presidency, Donald Trump is poised to cement conservative control of the court and fire up supporters eager for a rightward shift on divisive social issues. Although not the oldest, he is the most senior member of the court, having been nominated by former President Ronald Reagan.
For years, he has infuriated conservatives with decisions striking down prayer at public school graduations and upholding abortion rights - and exasperated liberals with decisions on affirmative action and campaign finance laws.
Still another reason is that the immigration executive order adds more security steps to the already years-long vetting process, which includes background checks as well as intense security and health screenings. They said the orders were illegal because they targeted Muslims.
In addition to LGBT rights, Kennedy has also stood with the court's liberals as a bulwark protecting the constitutionality of abortion in all 50 states.
"Oh we are supremely screwed", Colbert wailed.
Kennedy has always been considered the swing vote on the court between the liberal and conservative justices.
And it will only add to the political magnitude of the nomination at a time when Washington seems to zoom from crisis to crisis about trade and tariffs, foreign relations and immigration enforcement. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, told reporters.
"I think that, with respect to social issues, that means that the validity of Roe is imperiled and civil rights laws covering LGBT persons are ripe for judicial dismantling", he said in an email to Law & Crime reported.
Nisar Khan, a Pakistani immigrant who lives in Brooklyn, listens to a speaker during a rally outside of Manhattan Federal Court on June 26, 2018 in New York City.
But picking an ultra-conservative as his nominee would carry risk because Trump would have to rely on some moderate Republicans to win approval in the U.S. Senate, where his fellow Republicans have a narrow majority.
Don Willett, a Texas judge serving on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, made Trump's short list of 11 potential nominees before the president selected Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.
The very thought of this will dismay Democrats.
There are only nine justices, who only get replaced if they retire or die, so who sits on it really matters.
Trump said he would immediately begin the hunt for Kennedy's replacement and said he would look through his list of 25 people that he began compiling during the 2016 campaign. If the Senate divides 50-50, Vice President Mike Pence could break a tie to confirm the nominee.
The confirmation machinery would gear up quickly.
The Supreme Court allowed it to go largely into effect in December while the legal challenge continued. "No question about it", McConnell said.