Justice Anthony Kennedy has, in large part, served as Chief Oligarch of the United States of America for over a decade. A generation of lawyers have gone through law school learning how to make arguments just to cater to Justice Kennedy's various tics. At his retirement, the progressive left engaged in a temper tantrum against him and a rage against what they see as a massive set back in American jurisprudence.
First, stop letting Washington do everything and this will be less of a problem.
Second, the Supreme Court should never have allowed itself into the position of substituting the moral decisions of 300 million people with the morals of Harvard and Yale.
Third, nothing major is going to change. This year, for example, Kennedy was almost always a consistently reliable conservative vote. He voted to keep the President's travel ban, against Colorado punishing the Christian baker, against public sector unions, against California punishing pro-life centers, etc. He was reliably conservative and his replacement will be too.
Fourth, any nominee will have to get through not Democrats, but Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, both of whom are pro-abortion senators. They will provide cover for swing state Democrats to oppose any conservative jurist for the job. Additionally, Bob Corker and Jeff Flake are both retiring. Neither need show any loyalty to conservatives. This will be a steeper hill for conservatives to climb than they think because of those senators.
This is why President Trump should play it safe. He should consider someone like Senator Mike Lee, who his colleagues would be glad to push off to another branch of government. Or he should consider someone like Amy Barrett who these and several Democrats have already supported in the past year.
Lastly, President Trump has a list of people whose names he has already submitted to the public as possible nominees. The problem with that list is leftwing interest groups have spent the last two years collecting opposition research on each of them. That will make this nomination process far nastier than past nomination fights. Couple that with the Murkowski and Collins vetos and conservatives should be more realistic about the type of successor to Justice Kennedy we will get.