Who Will Replace Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy? Donald Trump Already Has a Shortlist

Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement from the Supreme Court on Wednesday, saying that the decision will be effective starting on July 31.

"It has been the greatest honor and privilege to serve our nation in the federal judiciary for 43 years, 30 of those years on the Supreme Court," Kennedy wrote in a letter released Wednesday afternoon.

His retirement will set the stage for a nomination battle within the Trump administration for his successor. Kennedy has often help swing the vote in liberal decisions that legalized same-sex marriage, upheld Roe v. Wade, and prohibited warrantless wiretapping.

President Trump responded to Kennedy's announcement on Wednesday, thanking Kennedy for his service and telling reporters that the search to find a new justice will start "immediately."

But Trump has been thinking about possible nominees long before Kennedy's announcement. Back in 2017, President Donald Trump released a lengthy list of potential Supreme Court justices.

"President Trump will choose a nominee for a future Supreme Court vacancy, should one arise, from this updated list of 25 individuals," the White House said in a statement in November.

That list includes Amy Coney Barret, a judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit who was once a law clerk for the deceased Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Barret's work has been largely conservative, and she has upheld decisions that have been critical of reproductive rights precedents like Roe v. Wade.

Brett Kavanaugh, a judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., is another potential Trump pick and is rumored to be a frontrunner. If he were to be appointed, he would be in good company: Four of the nine current Supreme Court justices have come from Washington, D.C.'s Court of Appeals, including Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and John Roberts.

Kavanaugh once worked as a law clerk for Justice Kennedy. In 2012, Kavanaugh wrote a dissent against a case involving the EPA's greenhouse gas regulations, and in 2016 he wrote the majority opinion that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was "unconstitutional," according to The National Review.

Britt C. Grant, a justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia, is also in the running for the open seat. Grant is a member of the Federalist Society and is only 40 years old, which would make her one of the youngest Supreme Court judges ever put on the bench.

Another likely possibility is Thomas Hardiman, who was a runner-up for Neil Gorsuch's Supreme Court seat in 2017. Hardiman already has a good connection to the White House because he is a favorite of Maryanne Barry Trump, the president's older sister.

Maryanne Barry Trump serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit alongside Hardiman.

When the list was first announced, White House counsel Don McGahn said that all the possible judges "have demonstrated commitment to originalism and textualism" to the Constitution. This means the judges say they're interpreting the constitution as it was meant when it was drafted, without adapting it for contemporary society.

Trump appears to have already told reporters that he will be choosing Kennedy's successor from that list.

JUST IN: Trump tells TV pooler @HallieJackson he will choose a judge from the list the White House has previously circulated to replace Justice Kennedy.

— Steven Portnoy (@stevenportnoy) June 27, 2018