As hundreds of North Dakotans waited to be let into the arena in Fargo where the president would be speaking Wednesday evening, news reached them that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy would be retiring at the end of July and that Trump would likely choose his successor.
Most of the residents of Fargo and Morehead expressed excitement that the president would likely nominate a conservative justice to the bench. But when pressed on whether they hope such a candidate would consider revisiting some of the 5-4 decisions issued during Kennedy’s tenure — including on marriage equality and abortion rights — they demurred.
In a key 1992 decision, Kennedy joined the court’s majority in upholding the constitutional right to an abortion, and the court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges three years ago brought marriage equality to the US.
Of a dozen supporters interviewed, many expressed anti-abortion sentiments, but nearly all said they believed that abortion should be legal in at least some instances, and that they did not believe a new court would or should overturn Roe v. Wade. Not one supporter expressed interest in the possibility of overturning the court’s landmark decision on gay marriage.
At the rally, Trump praised Justice Kennedy, calling him a “star,” and saying he was “honored” that Kennedy would be stepping down during his term.
In other comments, Trump emphasized the importance and sanctity of the constitution. Supporters also expressed reverence for the constitution, worrying that an appointee with stated political beliefs on abortion would tarnish the court.
“The court should be above reproach,” said Nancy Otto, 67. “So long as they follow the constitution, they will make the right decision.
Here’s what a dozen Trump supporters in Fargo had to say on Kennedy’s retirement: