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:   1975-1988
Personal History
Born:   July 23, 1936
Hometown:   Sacramento, CA
Undergraduate:   Standford, B.A., 1958
Law School:   Harvard Law, LL.B., 1961

Anthony McLeod Kennedy is an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. He was appointed by Republican President Ronald Reagan in 1988. Kennedy frequently is viewed as the Court's swing vote on social issues and has consequently held special prominence in several politically-charged anticipated 5 to 4 decisions.[1]

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 graduated from Stanford University in 1958 with a B.A. in Political Science. He spent his senior year at the London School of Economics. He earned an Bachelor of Laws from Harvard Law School in 1961.[2]

Professional career

Kennedy was engaged in the private practice of law in San Francisco from 1961 to 1963, before taking over his father's practice in Sacramento following his father's death. Starting in 1965 and until 1988, he was a Professor of Constitutional Law at the McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific. During Kennedy's time as a California legal professor and attorney, he assisted then-California Governor Ronald Reagan with drafting a state tax proposal.[2]

Kennedy has served in numerous positions during his career, including the California Army National Guard in 1961 and 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, which he chaired from 1982 to 1990.

Judicial career

Supreme Court of the United States

Kennedy was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Reagan after Reagan's failed attempts at nominating both Robert Bork and Douglas Ginsburg.[3][4]

While vetting Kennedy for potential nomination, some of Reagan's Justice Department lawyers said Kennedy was too eager to inject the courts in 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 drew criticism; Kennedy cited Roe v. Wade and other privacy right cases favorably, which one lawyer called "really very distressing."[5]

In another 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."[6] Reagan's lawyers also criticized Kennedy for citing an Amnesty International report to bolster his views in that case.

Kennedy endorsed Griswold 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.'"[7] This gave Kennedy more bipartisan support than Bork and Ginsburg, and he was ultimately confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 97 to 0.

Oath of office

Justice Kennedy took the Constitutional and Judicial Oaths of Office on February 18, 1988, which were administered by Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Following the ceremony in the Justices' Conference Room, during a special sitting of the Court Kennedy again received the Judicial Oath from the Chief Justice.[8]

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 nominated to that position by Gerald Ford on March 3, 1975, and received his commission on March 24, 1975. Kennedy was only 38 years old when appointed to the Ninth Circuit and was the youngest federal appellate judge in the country.[9]

His service on the Ninth Circuit lasted until February 17, 1988, when he was elevated to the Supreme Court of the United States.[10] He was succeeded to this post by Pamela Ann Rymer.

Supreme Court opinions

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.[11]

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

Author: Anthony M. Kennedy

Vote Count: 6-2

Majority Justices: Thomas, Ginsburg, Rehnquist

Concurring Justices: Scalia, Stevens

Dissenting Justices: O'Connor, Souter, Breyer

See also

External links


  1. Kennedy Biography from the Federal Judicial Center.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Cornell University Law School, Legal Information Institute: Anthony M. Kennedy
  3. Greenburg, Jan Crawford. Supreme Conflict: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Control of the United States Supreme Court.2007. Penguin Books. Pages 53-60.
  4. The New York Times, "Washington Talk: Court Politics; Nursing Wounds from the Bork Fight," November 30, 1987
  5. Greenburg, Jan Crawford. Supreme Conflict: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Control of the United States Supreme Court.2007. Penguin Books. Page 54.
  6. Greenburg, Jan Crawford. Supreme Conflict: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Control of the United States Supreme Court.2007. Penguin Books. Page 55.
  7. Greenhouse, Linda. Becoming Justice Blackmun. Times Books. 2005. Page 189.
  8. Supreme Court of the United States, Oaths of Office Taken by the Current Court Retrieved on 9/3/2013
  9. Time Magazine, "What Will Justice Kennedy Do?," June 18, 2012 Scroll to page 6
  10. Kennedy Biography from the Federal Judicial Center
  11. Cornell University, "WRITINGS BY JUSTICE BREYER," accessed April 2, 2014
  12. Oyez, Kimel v. Florida Board of Regents
Federal judicial offices
Preceded by:
Charles Merton Merrill
Ninth Circuit
Succeeded by:
Pamela Ann Rymer
Preceded by:
Lewis Powell
Supreme Court
Seat #2
Succeeded by: