U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy will step down from the high court soon. Kennedy on Wednesday announced his retirement, effective at the end of July. Kennedy turns 82 next month. He has served as a Supreme Court justice since 1988 after being nominated by President Ronald Reagan.
Kennedy is generally considered to be a conservative, but has been seen as a swing vote on the nine-member court a number of times. Professor J. Clark Kelso, who is a professor of law at the University of the Pacific's McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, notes that Kennedy delivered the decisive vote in the Supreme Court's landmark 2015 ruling allowing same-sex marriage.
Justice Kennedy was himself a Constitutional Law professor at McGeorge from 1965 to 1988. However, his Sacramento roots go much deeper.
Kennedy was born in Sacramento in 1936, and he was raised in California's capital city. His father was Anthony J. Kennedy who had a politically influential legal practice in Sacramento. When his father died in 1963, Kennedy took over that law practice.
Kennedy established a relationship with then California Governor Ronald Reagan while helping with the writing of state tax proposal. That relationship resulted in a 1975 recommendation by Reagan that President Gerald Ford nominate Kennedy to a vacant seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Ford made that nomination, and Kennedy was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
During Regan's second term as President of the United States he nominated Kennedy as the replacement for the retiring Lewis Powell, Jr. Anthony Kennedy became Justice Anthony Kennedy when he was sworn-in during a ceremony on February 18, 1988.
While he described Kennedy as a moderate who sided with both liberals and conservatives during his time on the high court, Professor Kelso said the Kennedy is technically considered a conservative. Clark suggested it is very likely that President Donald Trump will select an even more conservative judge from a list of 25 judicial candidates he has to choose from now. Kelso called all of those candidate highly qualified. Kelso added that the nomination process for Kennedy's successor will go quickly, since Democrats do not have the votes needed to block the confirmation.