Tuesday, October 04, 2005

My grudging tribute to Justice Anthony Kennedy

As Chief Justice John Roberts takes up his new job, I thought I should bring up Anthony Kennedy. While doing a little research, I realized the evil, Orwellian American Values website spells it out pretty well:

To conservatives, Justice Kennedy is the worst of turncoats


WASHINGTON - Two short years ago, the buzz in Washington was that if Chief Justice William Rehnquist retired, Justice Anthony Kennedy had a good shot at replacing him.

Kennedy was seen spending quality time with first lady Laura Bush on a civic education initiative Kennedy launched in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He was speaking out on drugs and prison sentences, and his former law clerks were well-placed in Bush administration jobs.

But then came June 2003 and Kennedy's majority opinion in Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down sodomy laws and breathed new life into the gay rights movement.

Last week, Kennedy did it again. In a stunning reversal for the court and himself, Kennedy led the court in striking down the juvenile death penalty. Writing for the 5-4 majority in Roper v. Simmons, Kennedy cited social science research on adolescents and the strong worldwide consensus against the practice.

Nobody is talking about Anthony Kennedy for chief justice anymore.

Kennedy was known to be quietly campaigning for the Chief Justice position several years ago, and then these cases reached the Court. He's no idiot - he knew he would pay a price, and he did the right thing anyway.

A number of wingnut sites that I found had mentioned the disconnect between his votes and his chief justice aspirations, but no one to the left of Attila the Hun has brought notice to it. Kennedy deserves some credit.

If he'd only get it right the remainder of the time, as well....

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