Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, the last Reagan appointee, was on the United States Supreme Court since 1988, until his recent retirement in 2018. During Kennedys time, he has been viewed as the swing vote placing him in the middle of the two wings of the Supreme Court. Prior to being on the Supreme Court, Kennedy was on the U.S.
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Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, appointed by former president, Gerald R. Ford. Kennedy was only 38 years old when appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals, which made him the youngest federal appellate judge in the country. During his time on the U.S. court of Appeals, he established himself to be a distinguished candidate to fill the vacant seat on the Supreme Court created by the retirement of Justice Lewis Powell in 1987.
During his time on the Supreme Court, it is safe to say that Kennedys voting pattern was generally conservative. He tended to join conservatives in cases about religious liberty, civil rights, voting rights, and campaign finances. Although, Kennedy frequently cast the deciding vote in cases advancing socially liberal causes that ?discovered new rights in the Constitution, such as gay rights, abortion, restricting capital punishment, and eliminating life sentences for teenage killers.
For many of the highest profile cases of his time on the Supreme Court, Kennedy has been the deciding vote. Kennedy once said the cases swing, I dont. He took a case-by-case approach, so he approached every issue individually, regardless of being conservative or liberal, ultimately coining him the swing vote. Some would say Kennedy was a very fair man, although he often clashed with himself. When looking at similar cases, his vote would not replicate a vote he made in a previous case.
Kennedy was the deciding factor on many cases during his time and in this paper, I will be analyzing many cases where he played a crucial role in the outcome of the case.
Obergefell v. Hodges is a very recent case that took place in 2015. This case is about how a group of same-sex couples sued their relevant state agencies in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee. They sued these states because they wanted to challenge the constitutionality of the states bans on same-sex marriage and refusal to recognize legal same-sex marriages. The plaintiffs argued that the states statutes violated the Equal Protection Clause and Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment. This was a huge case in terms of Kennedys decision. Kennedy wrote the majority decision in which the vote was 5-4. Kennedy was ultimately the deciding vote and in conclusion he said same-sex couples respect marriage and ask for equal dignity in the eye of the law. He claimed that right was granted by the Constitution.
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