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Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy

The Adjudicator

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"The case for freedom (and) for our constitutional principles (and) for our heritage has to be made anew in each generation. The work of freedom is never done."
Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy

Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy

Image Courtesy of the U.S. Supreme Court
As a moderately conservative justice with a strong commitment to the Bill of Rights, including the implicit right to privacy, Justice Kennedy is frequently the justice whose opinion transforms a 4-5 dissent into a 5-4 majority--or vice versa.

Vital Statistics


69 years old. Graduated from Stanford University (1958) with transfer coursework from the London School of Economics, then from Harvard Law School (1961). Roman Catholic. Married childhood friend Mary Davis, with three adult children.

Career Background


1961-1963: Associate counsel at Thelen, Marrin, John & Bridges in San Francisco, California.

1963-1967: Independent attorney working in Sacramento, California.

1965-1988: Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of the Pacific.

1967-1975: Partner at Evans, Francis & Kennedy in Sacramento, California.

1975-1988: Associate Justice of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Nomination and Approval


When Associate Justice Lewis Powell retired in June 1987, President Ronald Reagan had some difficulty in getting a replacement confirmed by the Senate. First he nominated the extremely conservative Robert Bork, who was rejected (or, as we call it today, "Borked") 42-58 by the newly Democratic Senate. Reagan next nominated Douglas Ginsburg, who was forced to step down after revelations of marijuana use. Reagan's third choice was Kennedy, nominated that November, who was unanimously (97-0) confirmed by the Senate.

Landmark Cases


Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992): Shocked observers by joining a 5-4 majority upholding the Roe v. Wade (1973) precedent, protecting the right to privacy. With the resignation of anti-Roe Justice Byron White in 1993, and his replacement by pro-Roe Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the majority expanded to 6-3. Recent changes in the Supreme Court (most notably, the retirement of pro-Roe Justice Sandra Day O'Connor) may have narrowed the majority to 5-4 once again.

Bush v. Gore (2000): Joined a 5-4 majority halting manual recounts in Florida and awarding the presidency to George W. Bush.

Grutter v. Bollinger (2003): Dissented from a 5-4 majority that upheld the University of Michigan's affirmative action policies.

Lawrence v. Texas (2003): Wrote for a 6-3 majority striking down sodomy laws as unconstitutional.

Roper v. Simmons (2005): Wrote for a 5-4 majority opinion prohibiting the execution of juveniles.

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