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Photo: Eric Thayer/Getty Images

Anthony Kennedy's retirement from the Supreme Court will reverberate for decades — especially in the ongoing legal debate over abortion rights.

The big picture: Kennedy was a true swing vote on abortion rights, upholding the central premise of Roe v. Wade but allowing states to impose at least some restrictions on access to the procedure.

  • Kennedy will all but certainly be replaced with a more staunchly conservative jurist. And the court's existing bloc of four Republican nominees is already much more open to states' abortion restrictions than Kennedy was.

Threat level: We're a long way from Roe being overturned. The more immediate likelihood is that limits on the procedure will be upheld, and that red states will seize that opening to push the envelope on more restrictive policies.

  • Expect to see states pursue — and the court uphold — tighter regulation of abortion providers and tighter time limits on when the procedure can be performed.
  • If Roe is ultimately overturned, abortion would not automatically become illegal. The issue would return to the states — meaning it would likely be legal in blue states and illegal in red states.

What's next: Some Democrats are trying to tie the Supreme Court vacancy into their health care-focused midterms strategy, but that's a tough sell.

  • Whoever President Trump nominates, he or she will strenuously avoid taking a position on the latest Affordable Care Act lawsuit, or the Justice Department's decision to seek an end to protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
  • Supreme Court nominees never comment on active lawsuits they might have decide if they're confirmed.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Woman who allegedly stole laptop from Pelosi's office faces fresh charges

Photo: FBI

A woman accused of breaching the Capitol and planning to sell to Russia a laptop or hard drive she allegedly stole from Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office faces fresh charges, according to a criminal complaint amended Tuesday.

Driving the news: Riley June Williams, 22, who was arrested in Pennsylvania's Middle District Monday, is suspected of being the woman featured in a video saying, "dude, put on gloves," before a man's gloved hand reaches for the laptop, per the Department of Justice.

Trump grants flurry of last-minute pardons

Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty

President Trump issued 73 pardons and commuted the sentences of 70 individuals early Wednesday, 11 hours from leaving office.

Why it matters: It's a last-minute gift to some of the president's loyalists and an evident use of executive power with only hours left of his presidency. Axios reported in December that Trump planned to grant pardons to "every person who ever talked to me."

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Trump revokes ethics order barring former aides from lobbying

Photo: Spencer Platt via Getty

Shortly after pardoning members of Congress and lobbyists convicted on corruption charges, President Trump revoked an executive order barring former officials from lobbying for five years after leaving his administration.

Why it matters: The order, which was signed eight days after he took office, was an attempt to fulfill his campaign promise to "drain the swamp."

  • But with less than 12 hours left in office, Trump has now removed those limitations on his own aides.