A moderately conservative justice with distinct libertarian tendencies, Kennedy has often provided the swing vote on important issues before the Supreme Court.
The son of a prominent lawyer, Anthony M. Kennedy earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Stanford University and a law degree from Harvard Law School in 1961. After his graduation, he worked for a prestigious law firm in San Francisco but left in 1963 to take over his deceased father’s law practice in Sacramento. In addition to being a successful lawyer, he actively worked with the Republican Party, and established personal friendships with people such as Edward Meese
In late 1987, President Ronald Reagan
During his first few years on the Court, Kennedy had a strongly conservative record, most often voting with Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist
On the issue of gay rights,
During the early twenty-first century, Kennedy joined the liberal wing of the Court in many high-profile cases. He authored the majority opinion in Roper v. Simmons
However, Kennedy also was frequently on the side of the more conservative justices, as when he dissented in Rompilla v. Beard
In early 2006, when Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who had often provided the swing vote, was replaced by Samuel Alito, whose record was quite conservative, commentators noted that this change left Kennedy as the most centrist of the nine justices. For this reason, it was widely expected that his positions would have a disproportionate impact on the direction of the court through the next few years. During the second half of the Court’s 2005-2006 term, he did indeed provide the swing vote in a number of 5-4 decisions. In the Hudson ruling, for example, he joined with the four more conservative justices to allow for an exception in the application of the exclusionary rule. In the case of Rapanos v. United States,
In addition to his work on the Court, Kennedy has not been timid about speaking out on public policy issues. In July, 2003, Attorney General John Ashcroft
Bader, William H., and Roy M. Mersky, eds. The First One Hundred Eight Justices. Buffalo, N.Y.: William S. Hein, 2004. Deegan, Paul. Anthony Kennedy. New York: ABDO, 2001. Eastland, Terry. “The Tempting of Justice Kennedy.” American Spectator 26, no. 2 (1993): 32-38. Hensley, Thomas R. The Rehnquist Court: Justices, Rulings, and Legacy. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-Clio, 2006. Keck, Thomas M. The Most Activist Supreme Court in History: The Road to Modern Judicial Conservatism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004. Toobin, Jeffrey. “Swing Shift: How Anthony Kennedy’s Passion for Foreign Law Could Change the Supreme Court,” New Yorker, September 12, 2005. Tushnet, Mark. A Court Divided: the Rehnquist Court and the Future of Constitutional Law. New York: W. W. Norton, 2005. Yarbrough, Tinsley. The Rehnquist Court and the Constitution. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.
Boerne v. Flores
Bush v. Gore
Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. Hialeah
Gratz v. Bollinger/Grutter v. Bollinger
Hudson v. Michigan
Lawrence v. Texas
Lee v. Weisman
Nominations to the Court
Rehnquist, William H.
Religion, freedom of
Roper v. Simmons