Anthony McLeod Kennedy was appointed as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1988. Kennedy was the third person nominated by President RONALD REAGAN to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice LEWIS F. POWELL JR. As a judicial conservative, Kennedy has generally voted with the conservative justices on the Court, yet he has split from them in significant rulings on ABORTION rights and gay rights.
Kennedy was born in Sacramento, California, on July 28, 1936. He graduated from Stanford University in 1958 and from Harvard Law School in 1961. He practiced law in San Francisco and Sacramento and taught CONSTITUTIONAL LAW at the McGeorge School of Law of the University of the Pacific from 1965 to 1988.
His conservative philosophy and his REPUBLICAN PARTY affiliation led to Kennedy's first judicial appointment. In 1975, President GERALD R. FORD appointed him to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Kennedy served on the federal appeals court for thirteen years and wrote over four hundred opinions.
A well-respected jurist, Kennedy entered the national limelight after the Senate rejected President Reagan's first nominee for Powell's seat on the Court, Judge ROBERT H. BORK, and Reagan's second nominee, Judge DOUGLAS H. GINSBURG, withdrew following his admission that he had smoked marijuana. Kennedy's confirmation hearings were filled with questions that sought to compare his philosophy to Bork's. Bork had embraced the doctrine of original intent?the idea that a judge should apply the Constitution only in the exact manner intended by the Constitution's Framers?as the only legitimate means of interpretation. Kennedy testified that ORIGINAL INTENT was only a starting point in interpreting the Constitution. In his Senate testimony, Kennedy stated his commitment to the principle of STARE DECISIS. This principle refers to the respect for legal precedent created by prior cases and the need to maintain precedent even if the current judges do not agree with the original ruling.
Kennedy was confirmed in February 1988, with many liberal members of Congress feeling that he was too conservative, and some conservatives
believing he was moderate, a compromise candidate who could survive the confirmation process.
Since taking office as associate justice, Kennedy has proved to be both conservative and moderate, depending on the case. He has usually sided with the conservative...