I have written this piece for Slate. It begins:
For Anthony Kennedy, America’s most powerful jurist, this term has brought unexpected and surprising expressions of powerlessness. After Tuesday’s ruling in the Trump travel ban case, it’s starting to feel like the end of his time on the court is near.
Rumors about Justice Kennedy’s retirement from the Supreme Court have circulated for well over a year, with the common one being that he was prepared to retire last year and some force—maybe norm-bashing President Donald Trump—stopped him. But something feels different this term.
First there were the punts in the partisan gerrymandering and cake-making cases. Let’s start with the redistricting case. For the last 14 years, Kennedy has called upon litigants to come up with some standard to help the court separate permissible from impermissible consideration of party in redistricting. The court this term granted two different partisan gerrymandering cases: one with a Republican gerrymander and one with a Democratic gerrymander; one involving state legislative districts and the other involving congressional districts; and one with an equal protection theory and the other with Kennedy’s favorite, a First Amendment theory.