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Anthony Kennedy
Anthony Kennedy official SCOTUS portrait.jpg
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
In office
February 18, 1988 – July 31, 2018
Nominated by Ronald Reagan
Preceded by Lewis F. Powell Jr.
Succeeded by Brett Kavanaugh
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
In office
May 30, 1975 – February 18, 1988
Nominated by Gerald Ford
Preceded by Charles Merton Merrill
Succeeded by Pamela Ann Rymer
Personal details
Anthony McLeod Kennedy

(1936-07-23) July 23, 1936 (age 87)
Sacramento, California, U.S.
Mary Davis
(m. 1963)
Children 3
Education Stanford University (BA)
London School of Economics
Harvard University (LLB)
Signature Cursive signature in ink
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Branch/service  United States Army
Years of service 1961–1962
Rank Army-USA-OR-03-2015.svg Private First Class
Unit California Army National Guard

Anthony McLeod Kennedy (born July 23, 1936) is an American lawyer and jurist who served as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1988 until his retirement in 2018. He was nominated to the court in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan, and sworn in on February 18, 1988. After the retirement of Sandra Day O'Connor in 2006, he was considered the swing vote on many of the Roberts Court's 5–4 decisions.

Born in Sacramento, California, Kennedy took over his father's legal practice in Sacramento after graduating from Harvard Law School. In 1975, President Gerald Ford appointed Kennedy to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In November 1987, after two failed attempts at nominating a successor to Associate Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr., President Reagan nominated Kennedy to the Supreme Court. Kennedy won unanimous confirmation from the United States Senate in February 1988. Following the death of Antonin Scalia in February 2016, Kennedy became the senior associate justice of the court; he remained the senior associate justice until his July 2018 retirement. Kennedy retired during the presidency of Donald Trump and was succeeded by his former law clerk, Brett Kavanaugh.

Kennedy authored the majority opinion in several important cases—including Boumediene v. Bush, Citizens United v. FEC, and four major gay rights cases: Romer v. Evans, Lawrence v. Texas, United States v. Windsor, and Obergefell v. Hodges.

Early life and education

Kennedy was born and raised in an Irish Catholic family in Sacramento, California. He was the son of Anthony J. Kennedy, an attorney with a reputation for influence in the California State Legislature, and Gladys (née McLeod), who participated in many local civic activities. As a boy, Kennedy came into contact with prominent politicians of the day, such as California Governor and future Chief Justice of the United States Earl Warren. As a young man, Kennedy served as a page in the California State Senate. Kennedy attended C. K. McClatchy High School, where he was an honors student and graduated in 1954.

Following in his mother's footsteps, Kennedy enrolled at Stanford University where he developed an interest in constitutional law. After spending his senior year at the London School of Economics, Kennedy graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford in 1958 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science. Kennedy then attended Harvard Law School, graduating in 1961 with a Bachelor of Laws cum laude.

Early career

Kennedy was in private practice in San Francisco from 1961 to 1963. In 1963, following his father's death, he took over his father's Sacramento practice, which he operated until 1975. From 1965 to 1988, he was a professor of constitutional law at McGeorge School of Law, at the University of the Pacific.

During Kennedy's time as a California law professor and attorney, he helped California Governor Ronald Reagan draft a state tax proposal.

Kennedy served in the California Army National Guard from 1961 to 1962 and became a private first class. He was on 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.

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

On March 3, 1975, upon Reagan's recommendation, President Gerald Ford nominated Kennedy to the seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that had been vacated by Charles Merton Merrill. Kennedy was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate on March 20 and received his commission on March 24, 1975.

Supreme Court of the United States

President Ronald Reagan and Anthony Kennedy
President Reagan and Kennedy meeting in the Oval Office on November 11, 1987

Nomination and confirmation

In July 1987, President Ronald Reagan nominated Robert Bork to the Supreme Court seat vacated by Lewis F. Powell Jr., who had announced his retirement in late June. However, he was rejected 42–58 by the Senate on October 23. On November 11, 1987, Reagan nominated Anthony Kennedy to fill Powell's seat. Kennedy was then subjected to an unprecedentedly thorough investigation of his background, which did not uncover any information that would hinder his nomination.

Public speaking and teaching

Kennedy called for reform of overcrowded American prisons in a speech before the American Bar Association. He has spent his summers in Salzburg, Austria, where he teaches international and American law at the University of Salzburg for the McGeorge School of Law international program and has attended the large yearly international judges' conference held there.

In 2005, Kennedy received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement presented by Awards Council member Sir Roger Bannister.

In January 2015, Kennedy recorded a short interview for Historic Mount Vernon about the vital role George Washington had played in the drafting and early interpretation of the Constitution.

Personal life

On June 23, 1963, Kennedy married Mary Jeanne Davis from Sacramento, California. The Kennedys have three children: Justin, Gregory, and Kristin. Mary Kennedy and the three Kennedy children are all graduates of Stanford.

Mary Kennedy was a third grade teacher at the Golden Empire Elementary School in Sacramento.

Justin Kennedy worked for Goldman Sachs, and then for Deutsche Bank from 1997 to 2009; he became its global head of real estate capital markets. During his time at Deutsche Bank he helped Donald Trump secure a $640 million loan for a Chicago real estate project.

Gregory attended Stanford Law School and was a president of the Stanford Federalist Society. He was an associate at Sullivan & Cromwell in the 1990s, later worked at UBS, and, since October 2016, is the chief operating officer at the investment bank Disruptive Technology Advisers, which works closely with Dropbox, 23andMe, and Peter Thiel's Palantir Technologies.

Kennedy is one of 15 Roman Catholics to have served on the Supreme Court (out of a total of 116 justices).

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Anthony Kennedy para niños

  • List of justices of the Supreme Court of the United States
  • List of law clerks of the Supreme Court of the United States (Seat 1)
  • List of United States Supreme Court justices by time in office
  • List of United States federal judges by longevity of service
  • United States Supreme Court cases during the Rehnquist Court
  • United States Supreme Court cases during the Roberts Court


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