Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy testifies before a House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services hearing to review the FY 2016 budget request of the Supreme Court of the United States, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, March 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Justice Kennedy, key vote on abortion and gay marriage, quits Supreme Court

WASHINGTON (AP) — Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy said Wednesday (June 27) he is retiring, giving President Trump the chance to cement conservative control of the high court.

The 81-year-old Kennedy said he is stepping down after more than 30 years on the court. A Republican appointee, he has held the key vote on such high-profile issues as abortion, affirmative action, gay rights, guns, campaign finance and voting rights.

Without him, the court will be split between four liberal justices who were appointed by Democratic presidents and four conservatives who were named by Republicans. Trump’s nominee is likely to give the conservatives a solid majority and will face a Senate process in which Republicans hold the slimmest majority, but Democrats can’t delay confirmation.

Trump’s first high court nominee, Justice Neil Gorsuch, was confirmed in April 2017.