"There are a number of very strong, dedicated, conservative constitutional originalist, textualists who have the proper view of our nation's Constitution as the highest authority in our nation and our nation's courts", Foster said. The office also said "that while his family was willing for him to continue to serve, his decision to step aside was based on his deep desire to spend more time with them".
Kennedy, mild-mannered and professorial, sometimes joined the liberal justices on key rulings, earning a reputation as the court's "swing" vote who heartened conservatives and liberals alike, depending on the issue.
He called Kennedy a "spectacular man" with "tremendous heart" and said he hoped to pick somebody who will be as "outstanding" as Kennedy has been.
In remarks to reporters, Trump said Kennedy has "been a great justice of the Supreme Court" and said the process to replace him would "begin immediately". Republicans changed the rules during Gorsuch's confirmation to wipe out the main delaying tactic for Supreme Court nominees, the filibuster, and the need for 60 votes to defeat it.
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) said Wednesday that he would not hold up President Donald Trump's nominee to fill retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy's seat as leverage in his push to get a vote on the President's tariffs.More news: Heather Locklear Is Returning to Rehab for Second Time in Three Months
All sides quickly mobilized Wednesday after Kennedy - a singular voice on the court whose votes have decided issues on abortion, affirmative action, gay rights, guns, campaign finance and voting rights - sent shockwaves through Washington by announcing his retirement plans. "Abortion will be illegal in twenty states in 18 months", Toobin wrote.
Even in the cases in which Kennedy (who is quite conservative) sided with his more conservative colleagues on the outcome, he frequently acted as a brake on moving the court's jurisprudence even further to the right, often by writing for himself. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) all voted to confirm Justice Neil Gorsuch, and could break with their party again, in order to save their own re-election. That will happen automatically in my opinion. Ted Cruz of Texas, and Cruz endorsed Trump just after the GOP presidential nominee added Lee to his list of potential court nominees. Democrats have a chance, albeit a small one, to take back control of the Senate in November.
Top Democrat Chuck Schumer said in a televised speech on the floor of the Senate that Mr Kennedy's replacement would be a decision affecting "generations" and therefore the confirmation vote should not take place until after the mid-terms.
Justice Kennedy's retirement gives Republicans the opportunity to fulfill their promise to install a majority on the court that would overturn these decisions.
Kennedy was nominated in 1987 by President Reagan to the court, after Robert Bork's nomination failed and Douglas Ginsburg was pressured to withdraw after questions were raised about his admission he had smoked marijuana several times.
Mr Kennedy did lean to the right - especially on matters of personal freedom.