Kavanaugh a contender for key Supreme Court pick
US Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy is to retire, letting President Donald Trump nominate a successor who could create the most conservative court in generations.
Kennedy, an 81-year-old Ronald Reagan appointee, has been the court's pivotal vote for the last decade, joining liberal justices to legalise gay marriage and voting with conservatives to throw out campaign-finance restrictions.
The court said Kennedy will retire effective July 31. By naming his successor, Trump could leave an enduring mark on the court, giving it a solid five-justice conservative majority.
Kennedy is "a very spectacular man," Trump said at the White House.
Federal appeals court judge Brett Kavanaugh, a former Kennedy law clerk with close ties to the retiring justice, is emerging as a top contender to replace his former boss.
Trump said yesterday he plans to make the appointment "as quickly as possible," and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would hold a confirmation vote in the fall.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley said he looks forward to hearings "in the weeks ahead".