justice anthony kennedy
The fate of the health care law may be in the hands of Justice Anthony Kennedy. Reuters

With the recent confirmation of Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, tension on Capitol Hill might be higher than it has been in years. Amid rumors Monday that Justice Anthony Kennedy is considering retirement, President Donald Trump’s possible next pick for the Supreme Court has become a hot topic.

CNN reported Monday that friends and family close to the Supreme Court Justice “believe Kennedy is seriously considering retirement.” CNN added that 80-year-old Kennedy is split between “the burdens of age and demands at the court” and his commitment to “America's constitutional democracy.”

Read: Supreme Court Justices Up For Retirement: Next President Donald Trump Could Appoint Four New Judges

Whether a second installment from Trump’s list of potential Supreme Court picks could tip the scales more favorably toward a conservative agenda remains unclear. Gorsuch’s replacement of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, a staunch conservative, wasn't expected to significantly sway the bench one way or the other. But many feel that the stakes would rise considerably should Kennedy, a centrist conservative, indeed decides to retire. As Kennedy has been a deciding justice in LGBTQ and Roe v. Wade cases, liberals may be wary of a judge with an originalist method of constitutional interpretation.

Rumors about Kennedy seemed to gain traction following statements made by Trump over the weekend. In an interview with conservative daily newspaper The Washington Times, Trump seemed to echo statements previously made by Republican senators, including Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Ted Cruz of Texas, that a Supreme Court vacancy this summer may be imminent.

“I don’t know. I have a lot of respect for Justice Kennedy, but I just don’t know,” Trump told the Washington Times Sunday. “I don’t like talking about it. I’ve heard the same rumors that a lot of people have heard. And I have a lot of respect for that gentleman, a lot.”

When asked whether his pick for the next Supreme Court justice would come from the list offered up earlier this year, Trump confirmed it would, adding, “That list was a big thing.”

That list includes the following candidates:

1. Michigan Supreme Court Justice Joan Larsen, 48
2. Judge William H. Pryor Jr., 54
3. Judge Thomas Hardiman, 51
4. Judge Steven Colloton, 53
5. Judge Diane Sykes, 58
6. Raymond Kethledge, 50
7. Amul Thapar, 47
8. Sen. Mike Lee, 45
9. Don Willett, 50
10. David Stras, 42
11. Raymond Gruender, 53
12. Margaret Ryan, 52
13. Sen. Ted Cruz, 46

CNN speculated that the list could also include former Kennedy clerk Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, as well as former Solicitor General Paul Clement, which CNN noted “were left off the last list in part because the president wanted to choose from individuals outside the District of Columbia.”

The last Supreme Court justice to retire was John Paul Stevens, who mostly held centrist views, in 2010.