Retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy is 81-years-old, and the longest-serving current justice on the Court. President Reagan nominated Kennedy to the Supreme Court in 1988. Kennedy was a compromise choice for Reagan after the Senate rejected his more conservative first choice, Robert Bork. That compromise had huge ramifications as Kennedy developed a track record as the swing vote in many key Supreme Court decisions, including the decision on same-sex marriage and votes that upheld Roe v. Wade.
Because of the way Kennedy voted on several pivotal cases, many on the Right are giddy that he is leaving the Court. But before conservatives throw too much confetti about his departure, it's worth noting that he sided with the majority on two decisions this month that have far-reaching impact for people of faith. The first, was the Masterpiece Cake Shop decision.
The second one was National Institute of Family and Life Advocates vs. Becerra (Becerra is California's attorney general). In that decision, the court wisely struck down a California law that requires pro-life pregnancy centers to post signs, in prominent places, informing women that California offers low-cost, or in some cases free, abortions. The case was not about abortion however — it was a free speech issue.
Justice Kennedy reprimanded his home state of California in his blistering concurrent opinion.
Justice Kennedy reprimanded his home state of California in his blistering concurrent opinion. In light of the insanity emanating from California every day now, his words are a vital reminder and warning to the nation:
The California Legislature included in its official history the congratulatory statement that the Act [this law that required pro-life clinics to advertise for abortions] was part of California's legacy of "forward thinking." But it is not forward thinking to force individuals to "be an instrument for fostering public adherence to an ideological point of view they find unacceptable." It is forward thinking to begin by reading the First Amendment as ratified in 1791; to understand the history of authoritarian government as the Founders then knew it; to confirm that history since then shows how relentless authoritarian regimes are in their attempts to stifle free speech; and to carry those lessons onward as we seek to preserve and teach the necessity of freedom of speech for the generations to come. Governments must not be allowed to force persons to express a message contrary to their deepest convictions. Freedom of speech secures freedom of thought and belief. This law imperils those liberties.
Do you hear what he's saying? The most progressive thing any American can do at this point is to know the Bill of Rights. Your liberty depends on it.