Bench Memos

Is Justice Kennedy Grooming Himself for Posterity?

With last term’s Obergefell decision, his unexpected 4–3 opinion in Fisher v. University of Texas, and his siding with the Supreme Court’s liberal bloc to strike down Texas’s HB2, the regulation of abortion clinics and abortion providers passed in 2013, Justice Anthony Kennedy’s judicial legacy will include the trifecta of  same-sex marriage, racial preferences, and abortion rights — hardly what President Ronald Reagan had in mind when he nominated Kennedy to the High Court in 1987, following the Senate’s shameful rejection of Judge Robert H. Bork. (Sadly, “Borking” paid off for the Left.) Does Kennedy’s recent leftward tilt indicate a conscious decision on his part to join the ascendant liberals, cementing a progressive legacy, as suggested by Jeffrey Toobin?

Or, as Professor John Yoo suggests, is Kennedy merely an unprincipled weathervane who over the course of his lengthy career “fell sway to the siren song of the academy and the media”?

My own take, in a post in the Library of Law and Liberty entitled “The Mau-Mauing of Justice Kennedy,” is that he was intimidated by Justice Sonia Sotomayor into abandoning his lifelong opposition to racial preferences. Republican presidents have appointed many disappointing justices to the Supreme Court: Earl Warren, William Brennan, Harry Blackmun, John Paul Stevens, Sandra Day O’Connor, David Souter, and unfortunately others. Whatever his motivations, one thing is clear: Justice Kennedy is rapidly rising in the pantheon of Bad Supreme Court Picks. This will be Kennedy’s ignominious legacy.

Most Popular

Elections

A Reckoning Is in Store for Democrats

The crisis of the Democrats is becoming more evident each week. Those of us who have been loudly predicting for years that the Russian-collusion argument would be exposed as a defamatory farce, and that the authors of it would eventually pay for it, are bemused at the fallback position of the Trump-haters: that ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Ilhan Omar: A Hostage Situation

‘It has to stop,” says Representative Ilhan Omar. No, it does not. Representative Omar, the Jew-hating Minnesota Democrat, is engaged in one of her usual games of misdirection, a pattern of hers that by now is familiar enough to be predicted: She says something outrageously stupid, offensive, ... Read More
Elections

Why ‘Stop Sanders’?

'Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?” T. S. Eliot asked. “Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” And where is the intelligence we have lost in cleverness? Cleverness is the plague of our political classes, an influenza of the intellect. The consultants are always trying to ... Read More
Immigration

Trump Is Hell-Bent on ‘Owning the Libs’

President Trump is looking into giving a free trip to San Francisco, New Orleans, or other great American cities to tens of thousands of refugees from Central America. All so he can own the libs. “Owning the libs” is one of those phrases to have emerged over the past few years that vacillates between ... Read More