Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement from the Supreme Court on Wednesday.
Kennedy, 81, was nominated to the court by President Ronald Reagan in 1987. On the Court he served as a conservative justice who often ruled with his more left-leaning peers, making him respected by both Republicans and Democrats alike.
His retirement gives President Trump an opportunity to install a fifth conservative justice on the court.
“We have to pick one that’s going to be there for 40 years, 45 years,” President Trump said at a rally in Fargo, North Dakota.
The Supreme Court became a hard-fought battleground when, in 2016, Justice Antonin Scalia died. His vacancy was left on the court for over a year when President Barack Obama’s nominee was blocked by the Senate. Scalia was replaced by Justice Gorsuch, who was sworn in by President Donald Trump in April 2017.
Frontrunners to take the vacant seat include Justices Brett Kavanaugh, Raymond Kethledge, and Amul Thapar.
In a letter to the President, Justice Kennedy expressed his “profound gratitude for having had the privilege to seek in each case how best to know, interpret, and defend the Constitution.”