Born In: Sacramento, California, United States
Anthony McLeod Kennedy is a retired American lawyer and jurist who served as Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit for over a decade and then as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States for over three decades. Anthony followed footsteps of his attorney father and graduated from Harvard Law School. After his father died, Anthony took over his father's legal practice in Sacramento and was eventually nominated as Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit by the then US President Gerald Ford in 1975. Later President Ronald Reagan nominated Anthony as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States in November 1987. He became Senior Associate Justice of the Court in February 2016 and served the position till he retired in July 2018. He remained swing vote on several of the Roberts Court's 5–4 decisions following retirement of Sandra Day O'Connor in 2006. Anthony co-authored plurality opinion in the landmark Supreme Court case ‘Planned Parenthood v. Casey’, and authored the majority opinion in different other significant cases like ‘Citizens United v. FEC’ and ‘Boumediene v. Bush’.
Also Known As: Anthony McLeod Kennedy
Spouse/Ex-: Mary Davis (m. 1963)
father: Anthony J. Kennedy
mother: Gladys McLeod Kennedy
children: Gregory Davis Kennedy, Justin Anthony Kennedy, Kristin Marie Kennedy
Born Country: United States
U.S. State: California
education: Stanford University, London School of Economics, Harvard Law School
awards: Great Golden Medal of Honour for Services to the Republic of Austria
Academy of Achievement's Golden Plate Award
Anthony McLeod Kennedy was born on July 23, 1936, in Sacramento, California, US, in the Irish Catholic family of attorney Anthony J. Kennedy, and Gladys (née McLeod). His father was reputed for influence in the California State Legislature and his mother used to take part in different local civic activities. His father’s occupation led the boy to meet several prominent politicians of those times including the then California Governor Earl Warren who later became Chief Justice of the United States.
Anthony Kennedy served as a page in the California State Senate at a young age. He graduated as an honours student from C. K. McClatchy High School in 1954. He then attended Stanford University where he became interested in constitutional law. He spent his senior year at the London School of Economics. In 1958, he graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford obtaining a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science. Thereafter he graduated cum laude from the Harvard Law School earning a Bachelor of Laws degree in 1961.
Anthony Kennedy commenced his legal career with private practice in 1961 and following his father’s death, in 1963, he took over his father's Sacramento practice and ran it until 1975. Meanwhile he served the California Army National Guard in 1961; worked at McGeorge School of Law, at the University of the Pacific as a Professor of Constitutional Law from 1965 to 1988; and also helped the then Governor of California Ronald Reagan in drafting a state tax proposal.
He served the Advisory Panel on Financial Disclosure Reports and Judicial Activities of the Judicial Conference of the United States (1979-87), and also the Conference’s Committee on Pacific Territories (1979-90). He chaired the latter from 1982 to 1990. During 1987-88, he served the board of Federal Judicial Center.
After Charles Merton Merrill assumed senior status vacating a seat as Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, President Gerald Ford nominated Anthony to the seat on March 3, 1975, upon Reagan’s recommendation. On March 20 that year the U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed Anthony and on March 24 he received his commission.
After failing in his first two attempts to nominate a successor to Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Lewis F. Powell Jr., President Ronald Reagan nominated Anthony Kennedy to the seat on November 11, 1987. Anthony was confirmed by a vote of 97 to 0 by the US Senate on February 3, 1988, and his commission to the Court was presented by Attorney General Edwin Meese in a swearing-in ceremony held on February 18 that year.
During his early tenure on the bench, Anthony was noticeably conservative which saw him voting over 90 percent of the time in his first term with Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justice Antonin Scalia, counted as two of the most conservative members of the court. He however sided with the liberal justices of the court on different high-profile social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage.
With time, his decisions became more independent. He rejected congressional term limits after parting ways with his conservative colleagues. He was part of the landmark case ‘Planned Parenthood v. Casey’ (1992) on abortion and co-authored its plurality opinion along with Sandra Day O'Connor and David Souter. The Court upheld the "essential holding" of the Roe v. Wade (1973) case in which the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment safeguards the right of a woman to choose to have an abortion prior to foetal viability, however changed the standard to analyze restrictions on that right, preparing the undue burden standard for abortion restrictions. Anthony dissented in the decision of the ‘Stenberg v. Carhart’ (2000) case which nullified laws criminalizing partial-birth abortion. Later he wrote majority opinion in Gonzales v. Carhart (2007) that upheld the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003.
Crucial votes were contributed by Anthony Kennedy along with O'Connor, known as the court's swing vote, resulting in victory of conservative majorities in cases that restricted congressional authority under the commerce clause of the Constitution of the United States and nullifying certain sections of gun control legislation. After O'Connor retired in 2005, Anthony’s reputation as a swing vote became more prominent. Many a times he decided outcomes of the Roberts Court cases.
Meanwhile his rethinking and change of stance on death penalty, abortion and religion attracted much criticism from some movement conservatives He went with the Court's majority agreeing that death penalty should not be imposed to intellectually disabled people and those under 18 in the cases ‘Atkins v. Virginia’ (2002) and ‘Roper v. Simmons’ (2005), respectively. He wrote the majority opinion in ‘Kennedy v. Louisiana’ (2008) case where the Court held that the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause of Eighth Amendment prohibits imposing capital punishment for rape of a child in cases where death of the child was not intended and the child did not die.
The New Yorker staff writer Jeffrey Toobin mentioned that Anthony Kennedy became a main proponent of the use of international and foreign law for interpreting the United States Constitution in 2003. In 2005 Anthony defended his use of international law to Toobin. During summers Anthony lives in Salzburg, Austria. There he teaches international and US law at the University of Salzburg for international program of the McGeorge School of Law.
His pro-gay-rights and pro-choice rulings including authoring the majority opinion in the gay rights cases ‘Romer v. Evans’ (1996), ‘Lawrence v. Texas’ (2003), ‘United States v. Windsor’ (2013), and ‘Obergefell v. Hodges’ (2015) were considered by some conservatives as betrayals.
He joined majority in the landmark gun control case ‘District of Columbia v. Heller’ (2008) where the Court struck down the District of Columbia's handgun ban and ruled that the Second Amendment protects right of individuals, not associated with service in a militia, to keep firearm in their homes and use it lawfully such as defending self within the home.
In the ‘Boumediene v. Bush’ (2008) case Anthony Kennedy delivered the opinion for the 5–4 majority, holding that foreign terrorism suspects detained in Cuba’s Guantanamo Bay Naval Base had a right to the writ of habeas corpus under the United States Constitution and thus can challenge their detention in US courts. Another notable case where Anthony authored the majority opinion was ‘Boumediene v. Bush, Citizens United v. FEC’ (2010) concerning campaign finance.
President Reagan appointed him as Senior Associate Justice of the Court after death of Antonin Scalia in February 2016. Anthony served the position till his retirement from the Court and transition to senior status on July 31, 2018.
Anthony married Mary Jeanne Davis on June 23, 1963. Together they have three children - Justin, Gregory, and Kristin. Justin served as global head of real estate capital markets of Deutsche Bank for some time.
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