This specific was a fleeting yet quintessential Kennedy moment as the court was finishing its annual session, a term defined to a large extent by Kennedy’s key vote, along with attention to whether he might retire.
The case demonstrated Kennedy’s crucial role, as he won a majority for a June 19 decision heralding the Internet’s “vast potential to alter how we think, express ourselves, along with define who we want to be.” This specific also revealed perhaps why the 80-year-old, longest-serving sitting justice has not given up his black robe.
He lives with This specific.
Kennedy was inside majority on closely decided cases more than any different justice This specific term. In several opinions, he wrote passionately, invoking such favored terms as democracy along with destiny.
If nothing causes him to reverse course along with step down, he could play an influential role inside resolution of a challenge to President Donald Trump’s travel ban involving six predominantly Muslim countries. He could cast the deciding vote in two different high-profile disputes on the upcoming calendar: one testing whether the Wisconsin state legislature unconstitutionally gerrymandered voting districts to favor Republicans, the different whether the Christian owner of a Colorado bakery may refuse to make a wedding cake for a gay couple.
Kennedy has authored the Court’s major gay rights cases dating to 1996. Two years ago, he cast the decisive vote along with wrote the opinion declaring a right to same-sex marriage.
First Amendment cases particularly inspire Kennedy. His majority opinion striking down a North Carolina law that will prohibited registered sex offenders’ access to the Web was so expansive that will three justices who agreed with his bottom-line judgment declined to sign his opinion.
Justice Samuel Alito, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts along with Justice Clarence Thomas, deemed Kennedy’s rhetoric “undisciplined” along with “unnecessary.” They criticized him for being “unable to resist musings” that will likened the Internet to streets along with different public places along with that will could prevent states coming from restricting sexual predators coming from any Internet sites.
Overall, inside full run of cases, not just the handful that will come down to 5-4 votes, the Sacramento native appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 votes more on the right than left.
Yet, inside more contentious, ideologically charged social dilemmas, his vote can be unpredictable, along with therefore up for grabs during negotiations with colleagues. He’s usually the linchpin when the left side of the bench — Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan — wins out.
Keeping everyone guessing
At the columned Supreme Court building, Justice Kennedy works in a tidy, well-organized office which has a view of the Capitol across the street. On his desk is usually a Black’s law dictionary along with little else. The artwork recalls his California roots: a bronze horse sculpture by Thomas Holland along which has a California grapes painting by Edwin Deakin.
When This specific comes to decisions, whether on cases or his future plans, he is usually more complicated.
Kennedy has navigated a narrow ideological path at the center of the court. He has shifted to the left more in recent years, such as to support abortion rights along with racial affirmative action on campus. He still keeps his colleagues along with outside legal analysts guessing where he might come down in a dispute.
This specific was that will way in recent months on the retirement watch.
Kennedy, who will turn 81 in July, had told friends along with family he was weighing when to step down. Trump administration lawyers, eager for another chance to shape the court, following the April appointment of Justice Neil Gorsuch, were ready to seize another vacancy.
A Kennedy retirement could let Trump appoint a more rigid conservative justice along with change the court’s makeup for a generation or more. The chances for liberal justices to prevail in close cases — as they did more than once This specific session — could plunge.
Kennedy kept his thoughts private. Even as recently as last weekend, some of his former law clerks who attended a reunion with him said a slight chance seemed to exist that will he could leave This specific June rather than next.
that will speculation ended as the term closed This specific week with no retirement statement.
Kennedy’s flair for the dramatic suggests that will when he does step down, perhaps next year, he could want to make an announcement while the justices are sitting along with the court in session.
Kennedy did not respond to an interview request with This specific story.
Behind the scenes, Kennedy is usually a go-to justice not only regarding the substance of rulings. He is usually often at the center of efforts to work out compromises in thorny cases along with lower tensions among colleagues.
along with in another sign of his standing, justices say that will after the nine have met privately along with voted on cases, along with Roberts has begun the delicate matter of who will author which decision, the chief confers first with one justice: Kennedy.