Trump did not name the five names on his short list, which he has said will be pulled from a list of 25 judges he first released during the 2016 campaign. The retirement will take effect at the end of July.
The White House said Trump's team also spoke with more than a dozen additional senators. Conservative groups that came together previous year for a $17 million campaign to confirm Justice Neil Gorsuch, Trump's first Supreme Court nominee, have prepped for months behind the scenes for this potential vacancy.
In a letter to Trump, Justice Kennedy wrote, "My dear Mr. President, for a member of the legal profession it is the highest of honours to serve on this court".
Trump says of the candidates under consideration, "It's a great group of intellectual talent". Mike Lee - and has said he would choose a nominee from that list. The Senate is a majoritarian body now on all nominations and will likely stay that way. Kennedy signed on to a number of decisions upholding Roe v. Wade, which said abortion was a constitutional right.
Spotlight turns to GOP women in Supreme Court fight
Justice Kennedy has always been seen as a "moderate" voice on the Court, despite being appointed by President Ronald Reagan . Trump's wish list, she said, includes "tremendous intellect, judicial temperament and impeccable qualifications".
Republicans now hold a bare 51-49 majority in the Senate, although that includes the ailing Sen. John McCain's continued absence due to ongoing brain cancer treatment, McConnell has a functional 50-vote majority and little room for error in what is shaping up to be a partisan fight over the ideological makeup of the court for the next generation.
The "Biden rule" was the Senate equivalent of Supreme Court "dicta", but McConnell's "no hearings, no votes" stance in 2016 is an actual precedent. Trump said his choice will come from a list of possible nominees that he put out during his campaign and updated last fall.
It's not certain who has made the president's shortlist, but many outlets have reported that Judge Brett Kavanaugh, a former Kennedy clerk, is the frontrunner.
Schumer said Wednesday the opening on the court from Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement is "the most important Supreme Court" vacancy in at least a generation. As the swing vote, Kennedy has frequently infuriated many conservatives. He sided with liberals to advance gay rights, save ObamaCare and limit the death penalty, while voting with the conservative wing to protect religious liberty and limit campaign finance laws. He had hired his allotment of four law clerks for the term that begins in October and he is planning to spend part of the summer as he typically does, teaching a law school class in Salzburg, Austria. For further illustration of the verb, stay tuned to what is sure to greet whomever is nominated to replace Kennedy. But suddenly the sharpest of double-edged swords was in the GOP's hands when Republicans took back the Senate in 2014 and with that, control of the confirmation process. "But we also praise Justice Kennedy's insight and forceful celebration of First Amendment freedoms, his sensitivity to the danger of authoritarian government, and his refreshing desire to preserve and teach the necessity of freedom of speech to future generations".