June 27, 2018 / 6:08 PM / 3 months ago

Justice Kennedy, U.S. Supreme Court's pivotal vote, to retire

WASHINGTON, June 27 (Reuters) - Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy said on Wednesday he plans to retire after three decades as a pivotal vote on the highest U.S. judicial body, giving President Donald Trump an opportunity to make the court more firmly conservative.

The conservative Kennedy, who turns 82 in July and is the second-oldest justice on the nine-member court, has become one of the most consequential American jurists since joining the court in 1988 as an appointee of Republican President Ronald Reagan. He proved instrumental in advancing gay rights, buttressing abortion rights and erasing political spending limits. His retirement takes effect on July 31, the court said.

Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham

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