Speculation mounts over impending SCOTUS retirements

Every year, around the time that the Supreme Court nears the end of its spring term, there are plenty of rumors of potential retirements — and this year is no exception.

In fact, it was recently rumored that Justice Clarence Thomas is considering stepping down from the high court. But according to the Washington Examiner, conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt said on Wednesday that Thomas “will never quit,” and that the more likely retirement would come from 70-year-old Justice Samuel Alito.

Alito out?

That assertion from Hewitt came during a conversation with Washington Post reporter Robert Costa about a column he penned on the Trump campaign’s strategy of using the need for more conservatives on the Supreme Court as a selling point ahead of November.

In his article, Costa pointed to anonymous and quiet discussions among President Donald Trump’s circle of advisers about the likelihood of Justice Thomas, who was nominated and confirmed in 1991 by former President George H.W. Bush, announcing his retirement this year.

He went on to speculate about who Trump would nominate as a replacement, given that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has made it clear that he would work to fill any vacancy on the high court immediately.

But according to Hewitt, that’s not a question that will need answered anytime soon.

According to the Examiner, the radio host told Costa that Alito, who was nominated to the high court in 2005 by former President George W. Bush and confirmed the following year, is more likely to step down ahead of the election.

“The stronger rumor is that Justice Alito is going to quit,” Hewitt said, citing “buzz” in political circles. “Justice Thomas will never quit,” he added, according to the Examiner.

A “done deal”

While Costa had pointed to Judge Amul Thapar, a Kentucky native and personal favorite of McConnell who currently sits on the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, as a potential Trump SCOTUS nominee, Hewitt had other names in mind.

According to the Examiner, potential replacements for Alito, Hewitt said, include 6th Circuit Court Judge Raymond Kethledge, 8th Circuit Court Judge David Stras, and 5th Circuit Court Judge Don Willett.

Still, Hewitt did agree that Thapar replacing Thomas is essentially a “done deal,” if and when the 72-year-old justice ever steps down.

At the end of the day, only time will tell if Trump indeed gets the chance to add another judge to the high court’s bench. In the meantime, however, one thing is for certain: the pundits will never stop speculating.

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