Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said Kennedy's retirement should "remove all doubt" about the importance of November's midterms, while outsiders began to debate how Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a NY Democrat who urged Republicans on Wednesday "to follow the rule they set in 2016" and "not to consider a Supreme Court justice in an election year", should direct his caucus.
While Trump did not make rolling back abortion rights a central plank of his campaign, numerous conservative rank and file want Roe v. Wade overturned and Trump promised to put anti-abortion justices on the Supreme Court.
It wasn't just a capstone for the six-term Kentucky Republican, who has spent the past year and a half muscling 42 of President Trump's judicial nominees through the Senate, including one Supreme Court justice and 21 appeals court judges.
"One thing that energizes conservatives more than anything else is the Supreme Court", said Sen.
Donald Trump hailed a US Supreme Court ruling a "great victory" after it voted to uphold the US president's travel ban on some Muslim majority countries.
Trump started his push to win over senators on Thursday night, meeting separately with Democrats and Republicans.
Mr Trump already has a list of 25 candidates - 24 judges and Utah senator Mike Lee - and has said he would choose a nominee from that list.
A week into his presidency, Trump fulfilled a campaign promise and announced a 90-day ban on travelers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. A total of 26 percent of Trump voters told pollsters that Supreme Court nominees were the most important factor in their voting, compared with only 18 percent of Clinton voters who felt that way.
Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement from the Supreme Court has put the Senate on the cusp of an all-out war over his replacement and thrust an unexpected and hotly contested issue into the spotlight less than five months away from the midterm elections. The court's conservative majority asserted itself on Trump's travel ban, worker rights, voting rights and religious freedom.
But when it comes to what may be his most lasting legacy - shifting the Supreme Court to the right - the Trump administration has managed to avoid its trademark chaos.
After thanking Kennedy for his service on the Supreme Court, Democratic Sen.
Three of the most vulnerable Senate Democrats - North Dakota's Heidi Heitkamp, West Virginia's Joe Manchin and Indiana's Joe Donnelly - voted in favor of Gorsuch a year ago. The Supreme Court's 1984 ruling in a case often called just "Chevron" says that in those situations, courts should rely on the experts at federal agencies to fill in the gaps.
His retirement sets the stage for a major showdown in the Republican-led U.S. Senate over the confirmation of Trump's eventual pick for the lifetime appointment to replace Kennedy, all coming before November elections in which Democrats are seeking to seize control of Congress from Trump's Republicans. The retirement is effective July 31, Kennedy said in a letter to President Donald Trump.
"He's very good at interacting with groups large and small", Kelso said, suggesting Kennedy will still enjoy traveling and giving speeches.
Abortion is likely to be one of the flash points in the nomination fight. James C. Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, once called Justice Kennedy "the most risky man in America".
Without him, the court will be split between four justices appointed by Democratic presidents and four who were appointed by Republicans. "With so much at stake for the people of our country, the US Senate must be consistent and consider the President's nominee once the new Congress is seated in January". In 2006, he went on to a seat on the US District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky. "So we're going to be getting that message out and making sure that the Senate rejects any nominee that opposes Roe v. Wade and the right to safe, legal abortion".
Protesters for and against abortion rights huddle under umbrellas as they rally in groups outside while the U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments in the abortion case National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra, in Washington, U.S. March 20, 2018.