Justice Anthony Kennedy became known for his ability to bring about unlikely coalitions, often to surprise us, for better or worse, with his opinions. Kennedy was often the swing vote, although most of the opinions that the mainstream media have featured in reference to Kennedy are those that revolve around his moments of swinging left. For instance, you'll hear plenty about Kennedy's role in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, in which he sided with Justices O'Connor and Souter.
You're less likely to hear about his roles in Gonzalez v. Carhart, which upheld the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, which stands as a major victory for the pro-life movement. In many ways, the decision signaled a shift in momentum, away from the liberal influence of Sandra Day O'Connor, a shift that was amplified further yesterday with the announcement of Justice Kennedy's retirement. During Gonzalez v. Carhart, the court found that there is "uncertainty [in the medical community] over whether the barred procedure is ever necessary to preserve a woman's health"; and in the past the court "has given state and federal legislatures wide discretion to pass legislation in areas where there is medical and scientific uncertainty."
Kennedy was joined by Justices Scalia, Roberts, Thomas, and Alito, with Dissent from Ginsburg, who was joined by Souter and Breyer. The decision was also important for the religious foundation of America, or at least the principles that many Americans hold dear.
The decision was also important for the religious foundation of America, or at least the principles that many Americans hold dear.
Kennedy, who began as a lawyer and lobbyist in Sacramento, was nominated to the court by President Ronald Reagan in 1987. As his legacy unfolds, we will also look toward the decisions of President Trump.
As David Savage wrote:
Kennedy's decision to step down offers conservatives the opportunity they have long sought to lock in a reliable five-member conservative majority on the high court. And for them, it comes at an ideal time, since Republicans control the Senate and have voted in unison to confirm Trump's conservative court nominees.