Justice Kennedy's retirement certain to have cascading effects in Colorado and across nation

Experts: likely nominee will be more conservative

DENVER -- As Justice Anthony Kennedy steps down from the Supreme Court, it could have sweeping effects on social issues across the country as well as here in Colorado.

Experts agree that Kennedy was moderate on many social issues like gay rights and abortion. So, appointing anyone just slightly to the right could have cascading effects for generations to come.

Colorado became the first state in the nation to legalize abortion under the leadership of Dick Lamm in 1967.

That was then.

"I think the threat is real,” said Karen Middleton, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado. Middleton said the retirement of Justice Kennedy constitutes a crisis for legal abortion here and across the country.

"Clearly the Roe v. Wade decision is on the line. It has been very protective of women and their access to abortion care."

On the other side, pro-life advocates took to social media Wednesday claiming this as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

But legal scholar at the University of Denver, Corey Ciocchetti, says he doesn't see that happening.

“It might,” he said. “It's impossible to predict these things. But, I don't think it's a slam dunk."

Rather, Ciocchetti sees a conservative bench taking action on a number of other social issues more immediately - like affirmative action.

“Affirmative action programs in higher education could die," he said.

Ciocchetti also says efforts by the left to abolish the death penalty will likely die as well.

“I think that will stall," he said.

Middleton is calling on all who are pro-choice to try and stop any appointment by Pres. Trump before the mid-term elections.

"Our push is going to be that the U.S. Senate should not confirm a new justice until after the elections," Middleton said.

That’s highly unlikely, according to the experts. 

"When it comes to Congress and the President they don't see eye to eye,” Ciocchetti said. “But, when it comes to this sort of issue, they're best buddies. I think the nomination will come out soon and this thing will be done in August or September. It’ll be easy.”

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