Anthony Kennedy

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Anthony Kennedy
Anthony Kennedy.jpg
Current Court Information:
Supreme Court of the United States
Title:   Associate justice
Position:   Seat #2
Appointed by:   Ronald Reagan
Approval vote:   97-0
Active:   2/17/1988-Present
Preceded by:   Lewis Powell
Past post:   Ninth Circuit
Past term:   3/24/1975-2/16/1988
Personal History
Born:   7/23/1936
Hometown:   Sacramento, CA
Undergraduate:   Stanford University, 1958
Law School:   Harvard Law School, 1961

Anthony McLeod Kennedy is the 104th associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. He was nominated by Republican President Ronald Reagan on November 12, 1987, and confirmed by the United States Senate on February 17, 1988. At the time of his confirmation, Kennedy was a federal judge for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Kennedy is frequently viewed as the Court's swing vote on social issues and has consequently held special prominence in several politically charged, highly anticipated 5 to 4 decisions.[1][2]

Judicial philosophy

Justice Kennedy's judicial philosophy is rooted in libertarian and federalist principles. Ilya Shapiro of the Cato Institute:

Anthony Kennedy was appointed by a Republican president, of course, but his jurisprudence is about as libertarian as we've had on the Court since before the New Deal.[3][4]

Shapiro has also said:

He's a strong federalist who believes in the inherent dignity of the individual -- and that constitutional structures protect that personal liberty.[3][4]

Early life and education

Justice Kennedy grew up in Sacramento, California. He served as a page in the California State Senate when he was young. Kennedy graduated from C. K. McClatchy High School in 1954 and went on to earn his B.A. in political science from Stanford University in 1958. He spent his senior year at the London School of Economics. He earned his bachelor of laws from Harvard Law School, graduating cum laude in 1961.[5][1]

Professional career

Kennedy was engaged in the private practice of law in San Francisco from 1961 to 1963. Following his father's death, he took over his father's practice in Sacramento. From 1965 through 1988, Kennedy was a professor of constitutional law at the McGeorge School of Law at the University of the Pacific. During Kennedy's time as a law professor and attorney, he assisted then-California Governor Ronald Reagan with drafting a state tax proposal.[5]

Kennedy has served in numerous positions during his career, including in the California Army National Guard in 1961 and on the board of the Federal Judicial Center from 1987 to 1988. He also served on two committees of the Judicial Conference of the United States: the Advisory Panel on Financial Disclosure Reports and Judicial Activities (subsequently renamed the Advisory Committee on Codes of Conduct) from 1979 to 1987 and the Committee on Pacific Territories from 1979 to 1990. Kennedy also chaired the latter committee from 1982 to 1990.

Supreme Court of the United States

Opinions by year

Below is a table of the number of opinions, concurrences, dissents and splits (concur in part, dissent in part) that Anthony Kennedy has issued since joining the Supreme Court according to the data on Cornell University’s Legal Information Institute.[6]

1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Opinions 7 15 12 11 9 12 8 12 8 9 9 8 11 9 8 7 8 8 9 7 7 7 9 11 0 0
Concurrences 4 10 11 7 10 8 14 5 5 1 9 5 5 5 7 6 8 4 8 5 1 5 6 3 0 0
Dissents 3 4 8 7 5 4 1 1 3 2 3 5 4 1 3 5 6 5 3 0 3 1 4 3 0 0
Concur in part, Dissent in part 0 1 1 2 0 2 0 0 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0
Totals 14 30 32 27 24 26 23 18 18 12 22 18 20 15 18 21 22 17 20 12 12 14 19 17 0 0

Notable cases

Nomination and confirmation

President Ronald Reagan nominated Kennedy to the Supreme Court after Reagan's failed attempts at nominating both Robert Bork and Douglas Ginsburg.[9][10]

While vetting Kennedy for potential nomination, some of Reagan's Justice Department lawyers said that Kennedy was too eager to inject the courts into disputes that many conservatives would rather leave to legislatures and to identify rights not expressly written in the Constitution. Kennedy's stance favoring privacy rights also drew criticism. Kennedy cited Roe v. Wade and other privacy rights cases favorably, which one attorney called, "really very distressing."[11]

In one of his pre-SCOTUS opinions, Kennedy criticized (in dissent) the police for bribing a child into showing them where the child's mother hid her heroin. Kennedy wrote that, "indifference to personal liberty is but the precursor of the state's hostility to it."[12] Reagan's lawyers criticized Kennedy for citing an Amnesty International report to bolster his views in that case.

Kennedy endorsed Griswold v. Connecticut (concerning due process) as well as the right to privacy, calling it, "a zone of liberty, a zone of protection, a line that's drawn where the individual can tell the Government, 'Beyond this line you may not go.'"[13] These views garnered Kennedy more bipartisan support than either Bork or Ginsburg, and he was ultimately confirmed by the Senate on a vote of 97 to 0.

Oath of office

Justice Kennedy took the Constitutional and Judicial oaths of office on February 18, 1988. Chief Justice William Rehnquist administered the oaths. Kennedy again received the Judicial Oath from the chief justice following the ceremony in the Justices' Conference Room during a special sitting of the Court.[14]

Ninth Circuit

Prior to his appointment to the Supreme Court, Kennedy served on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He was recommended by then-Governor Ronald Reagan to President Gerald Ford, who nominated Kennedy on March 3, 1975. Kennedy received his commission on March 24, 1975. He was only 38 years old when appointed to the Ninth Circuit and was the youngest federal appellate judge in the country.[15]

Kennedy served the Ninth Circuit until February 17, 1988, when he was elevated to the Supreme Court of the United States.[1] The successor to his seat was Pamela Ann Rymer.


At the dedication of the Anthony M. Kennedy Library and Learning Center, Justice Kennedy prepared and presented a reading list titled "Understanding Freedom’s Heritage: How to Keep and Defend Liberty." The list is directed at youths and contains speeches, films and literature. The full list can be found here.

See also

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Federal Judicial Center, "Kennedy, Anthony McLeod"
  2. USA Today, "From gay marriage to voting law, Kennedy is the key," June 27, 2013
  3. 3.0 3.1 Huffington Post, "The Supreme Court's libertarian moment?," July 2, 2013
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Cornell University Law School, "Legal Information Institute: Anthony M. Kennedy," accessed June 12, 2014
  6. Cornell University, "WRITINGS BY JUSTICE KENNEDY," accessed December 9, 2014
  7. 7.0 7.1 Supreme Court of the United States, "Citizen's United v. FEC," accessed June 12, 2014
  8. 8.0 8.1 Legal Law Institute at Cornell, "Lawrence v. Texas," accessed June 13, 2014
  9. Greenburg, J. C. (2007). Supreme Conflict: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Control of the United States Supreme Court. Penguin Books. Pages 53-60.
  10. The New York Times, "Washington talk: Court politics; nursing wounds from the Bork fight," November 30, 1987
  11. Greenburg, J. C. (2007). Supreme Conflict: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Control of the United States Supreme Court. Penguin Books. Page 54.
  12. Greenburg, J. C. (2007). Supreme Conflict: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Control of the United States Supreme Court. Penguin Books. Page 55.
  13. Greenhouse, L. (2005). Becoming Justice Blackmun. Times Books. Page 189.
  14. Supreme Court of the United States, "Oaths of Office Taken by the Current Court," accessed August 28, 2014
  15. Time Magazine, "What will Justice Kennedy do?," June 18, 2012
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Federal judicial offices
Preceded by:
Lewis Powell
Supreme Court
Seat #2
Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
Charles Merton Merrill
Ninth Circuit
Succeeded by:
Pamela Ann Rymer