Happy Birthday Justice Kennedy … PLEASE DON’T LEAVE US!!!

I have always believed that people should, if they wish to, be able to retire while they still have enough time and energy to do some of the things they always wanted to, whether it be to travel, take up golf, write their memoirs, garden, or just spend more time with their family.  I was fortunate to be able to retire early, actually did not have much choice, but it has worked out well for me and the family.  That said, here I am about to advocate that an 81-year-old man stay on the job for at least another 4 years!

Anthony-KennedyThe man is Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.  On July 23rd, he will celebrate his 81st birthday, and rumour has it that he is giving serious consideration to retiring in the near future.  Back in February I wrote a post  about this very thing, noting that in addition to Kennedy, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (84) and Justice Stephen Breyer (78) were of an age to retire should they decide to do so.

Why does any of this matter?  Let us set aside the labels of ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal’ for the moment, and speak only of the issues and voting histories.  Kennedy has provided the swing vote in a number of cases in favour of human rights, civil rights, and social issues.  His was the vote that formed a majority in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, clearing the way for same-sex marriage.  The others were Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. “They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law and the Constitution grants them that right,” Kennedy wrote in his majority opinion.

Kennedy voted to reaffirm the core holding of Roe v. Wade in 1992. According to Elizabeth Wydra, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center. “Replacing Justice Kennedy with a Trump nominee would almost certainly sound the death knell for Roe, just as candidate Trump promised during the 2016 campaign.”

Which is not to say that I agree with all of Kennedy’s views.  He supported Citizens United, which as we now know was a horrible decision, he has voted for stronger gun rights, and in 2013 voted to strike down two key provisions to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, thus enabling more widespread racial discrimination in the voting process.  But overall, I believe he is a fair judge, an experienced judge, and I believe he will serve the rights of the people of this nation far better than anybody Donald Trump might appoint.

I am not alone in my opinion.  Comedian, actor, director and writer Carl Reiner (and father of Rob Reiner) penned a letter that ran in the New York Times Friday, 07 July, titled Justice Kennedy, Don’t Retire.  The letter begins …

Dear Justice Anthony Kennedy,

I would like to start with congratulatory wishes on your forthcoming 81st birthday.

As someone who has almost a decade and a half on you, I can tell you this: It may well be that the best part of your career has just begun. As a nonagenarian who has just completed the most prolific, productive five years of my life, I feel it incumbent upon me to urge a hearty octogenarian such as yourself not to put your feet up on the ottoman just yet. You have important and fulfilling work ahead of you.

When I turned 81, I had finished “Oceans Eleven” and was gearing up for “Oceans Twelve” while also writing another book, which led me to a cross-country book tour.

I know what it means to be your age. I know the problems that come with the journey. But these are not ordinary times, and you, sir, are anything but an ordinary man.

The country needs justices like you who decide each case with fairness and humanity, and whose allegiance is to the Constitution of the United States of America, not to a party line. You have always voted your conscience, and defended the rights and liberties of all our citizens.

I’m sure you’ve considered the various options, as we all do when we reach a certain age. After all, although our lives are different, I’m sure there are similarities. I get up in the morning, and if I’m not in the obits, I eat breakfast. You get up, meet with your clerks and engage with them in spirited discussion about the constitutional ramifications of the important cases at hand. I engage in spirited discussion with my publisher about the release order of my next three books.

You have lunch and I have lunch. You return to your chambers and I to my desk. At day’s end, you go home to ponder the important decisions you will be making tomorrow. I go downstairs and join my friend Mel in front of the television, and we ponder out loud how many steps Vanna White will take when walking over to the letter board tonight after leaving Pat Sajak’s side. (F.Y.I., it is usually six, sometimes seven, rarely eight, but never nine.)

Imagine if you retired from the bench. What would your days be like? Here’s a scenario: You revisit your carefree years, rent a red Volkswagen and travel through Europe, stopping in Paris for coffee and a croissant on the Champs-Élysées, then on to the Amalfi coast, where you’ll sail to the waterfalls of Marmorata and the Emerald Grotto.

How would you feel, while reading your newspaper, seeing a headline that read “Roe v. Wade Overturned”? Do you see how this could ruin a good meal? A good life? A great country?

I believe I’ve made my case. It’s now 1 a.m., and I am going upstairs to my computer to tweet out my thought of the day, because I can. I have the freedom to do that because of people like you who are committed to protecting our liberties and our Constitution.

I thank you, as all our fellow citizens will.

Respectfully,

Carl Reiner

Given the way Trump’s mind works, when it does, it is impossible to predict who he would nominate to replace Kennedy if he should retire, but most likely one of the remaining 10 from his ‘short list’ back when he nominated Neil Gorsuch to replace Antonin Scalia.  Among pundits, the most likely first choice appears to be Thomas Hardiman, a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit who resides in Pennsylvania.

Since all this is speculative, and we can hope that Kennedy will stick around for at least 4 more years, I won’t go into much background, but a few of Hardiman’s more notable rulings bear looking at:

  • In the 2008 case Busch vs. Marple Newton School District, Hardiman wrote an opinion in favor of parents who described themselves as Evangelical Christians and were barred from reading from the Bible during a kindergarten “show and tell” presentation.
  • In the 2010 case Kelly v. Borough of Carlisle, Hardiman ruled that a police officer had qualified immunity because there is no clearly established First Amendment right to videotape police officers during traffic stops.
  • In the 2016 case Binderup v. Attorney General which related to the issue of felons owning firearms, he ruled that “only dangerous persons which were likely to use firearms for illicit purposes” could be barred from owning firearms.

Let us just hope that Carl Reiner’s letter gives pause to any notions of retirement Justice Kennedy might have had!

20 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Justice Kennedy … PLEASE DON’T LEAVE US!!!

  1. Reports of Justice Roberts retirement are concerning, and seem to have been taken over by the most recent kerfuffle at G20 Summit and the continuing investigation into Trump’s Russia connections.

    Having said that, while I think further investigation into the Russian Scandal is essential in unseating a politician who has been effectively bought by the Kremlin, we cannot ignore the long-term effects and enduring “legacy” of a Trump Administration’s second Supreme Court Nomination. As I fast forward in my non-existent time machine, I would wager that the Trump Presidency will be viewed as a joke and something of an outlier in U.S. Politics. Once the damage is undone and we have a decade to forget about this toxic leader, his supreme court appointments will ultimately be his enduring legacy, as a more conservative Court redefines the laws of the land in the image of the hard-line conservative ideologies.

    Here’s to hoping that Justice Roberts hears the outcry from progressives on both sides of the aisles. As it stands, however, I think this is likely the scariest part of Trump’s administration.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, many … myself included … have said the same. Since Supreme Court Justices serve for life, or for as long as they are able and willing, the damage this could cause could last for decades and beyond. I suspect that Justice Kennedy will, in fact, stay IF he is able. But there could be some health concerns of which we are not aware. Keeping fingers crossed!

      As to your other comments … I have often said I would like to come back in 100 years just to see how history writes this period, not only Trump, but the entire populist movement with its cartoon-like characters, Geert Wilders, Marine LePen, and others. But I think that if Trump stays in office for the entire four years, he may cause damage that will not be repaired and forgotten in 10 years, but that may well shape the future of the nation forever. This is why I fight against him tooth and nail. Yes, he is a clown and a buffoon, a joke, but he is dangerous and not in the least birt funny. I keep thinking that the Trump-tanic is sinking, but it sure is taking its time!

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    • Thank you for having so much faith in my judgment! As for Kennedy … I think he follows his conscience, is a man of integrity and fairness … that is all anybody can ask, for we are all human — even judges.
      Many hugs back to you, my good friend! ❤

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  2. Dear Jill,
    I bet all the justices know what is at stake, if anyone leaves before 2020 and this includes Justice Kennedy. I suspect that one of the justice’s will leave only if they were at death’s door. And so let’s all pray for their health. .

    And 81st Happy Birthday to Justice Anthony Kennedy.

    Hugs, Gronda

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hope you are right, Gronda! Ruth Ginsburg did promise to work as long as she possibly could, and Breyer is only a youthful 78, so he will probably stick around for another 4 years. Fingers crossed!!!
      Hugs!!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I am a feminist who believes that Roe V. Wade should be overturned. Taking into account that some cultures prefer to have boys, I know that if abortion is legalized it will hop onto the slippery slope of becoming a social norm. Soon you’ll be able to have an abortion for any reason. I’m worried that soon, some American families will choose to abort their female children in order to hold off for a male. Women, and the maternal instinct are, to me, so spectacular, and divinely necessary that I fear female infanticide causing a shortage in females. Please don’t support abortion #protectourgirls

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, Roe v. Wade has been law since 1973, and in the 44 years since that Supreme Court decision, abortion has not become a ‘social norm’. I am not a fan of abortion, BUT … I am in full support of a woman’s right to choose. There are numerous reasons a woman might make such a choice, and most are sound reasons. I am more concerned about women who children that they cannot or will not be able to care for, thus the children either end up in foster care or abused … or sometimes murdered by their own parents. So yes, I am in support of keeping a woman’s right to choice. But at the same time, I respect your opinion and thank you for commenting.

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