High court’s last day notable for what was, wasn’t said

Mark Sherman
Associated Press

Washington — The last day of the Supreme Court’s term was notable not only for what was announced but also for what wasn’t.

There had been speculation that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy could reveal his retirement from the court Monday. But the court recessed without any retirement announcement from Kennedy.

The justices did make a number of significant rulings. They decided to allow a limited version of President Donald Trump’s ban on travel from six mostly Muslim countries take effect and to set the case for argument in the fall.

In a highly watched religious liberty case, the court sided with a church that had sought a grant to put a soft surface on its preschool playground. And the justices said they’ll take on a new clash between gay rights and religion in a case about a wedding cake for a same-sex couple in Colorado.

The justices will begin to hear cases again Oct. 2.

Until then, they’re off to summer activities, which for Kennedy includes spending part of the summer as he typically does, teaching a law school class in Salzburg, Austria.

Kennedy could still announce his retirement at any time, though the last day of the term was seen as an opportune moment. But he had given no public sign that he would step down this year and give President Donald Trump his second high court pick.

Kennedy turns 81 next month and has been on the court for nearly 30 years. Several of his former law clerks have said they think he is contemplating stepping down in the next year or so. In addition, Kennedy and his clerks gathered over the weekend for a reunion pushed up a year earlier than normal. The decision to hold an early reunion helped spark talk he might be leaving the court.