Life and Law: The Early Years (Hardcover)

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Anthony Kennedy’s journey from an idyllic youth in 1940s Sacramento to service on the highest courts in America.

Anthony Kennedy did not take the usual path to a seat on the Supreme Court. Often, the phrase “constitutional lawyer” brings to mind graduates of fine universities engaged in philosophic discourse as they walk the halls of government. Although Kennedy attended Stanford and the London School of Economics and then Harvard Law School, he made his way as a lawyer with a wide-ranging small-town practice that included criminal and civil trials, advice in forming and managing corporations, estate planning, and tax advice. For him, the law was not just an idea but a reality that touches Americans’ lives every day. The nation’s “little c” constitution—community, customs, and mores—proved as important as the “big C” Constitution adopted in 1789. Justice Antonin Scalia’s one-time quip that the law is what “five Ivy-educated constitutional law professors say it is on a given day,” may literally have captured Justice Kennedy—he was an Ivy-educated constitutional law professor. But the comment missed the distinctive background and mindset Justice brought to both the classroom and the bench.

Born in Sacramento in 1936, the Irish-Catholic Kennedy grew up in a family active in civic affairs. The bookish youngster served as page in the California State Senate, but the teenager worked summers on oil rigs in Canada, Montana, and Louisiana. He attended Stanford and the London School of Economics, then went east to Harvard Law School. When he returned to Sacramento in 1963, it was to take over his late father’s law practice. It was a busy and rewarding life, taking him into courtrooms and prisons. In addition, his work brought him into contact with the state’s political elite. Kennedy and his wife helped the newly elected governor Ronald Reagan find a house in Sacramento in 1966, and he was in close consultation with those in Reagan’s kitchen cabinet. Then in 1975, Gerald Ford appointed him to the federal judiciary. He was just thirty-eight and the youngest federal appellate court judge in the nation. His life now turned toward Washington, but it was Sacramento that was the making of a consequential jurist. When Kennedy left active service on the Supreme Court in 2018, Justice Neal Gorsuch noted, “As great as Justice Kennedy’s legal legacy may be, I cannot help but wonder if today the person may have as much to teach us as the judge.”

About the Author

Anthony M. Kennedy was born in Sacramento, California, July 23, 1936. He completed his undergraduate studies at Stanford University and the London School of Economics. After graduating from Stanford, he received his LLB from Harvard Law School. He was in private practice in San Francisco from 1961 to 1963, and then in Sacramento, from 1963 to 1975. From 1965 to 1988, he was a professor of constitutional law at the McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific. He has served in numerous positions during his career, including as a member of the California Army National Guard in 1961, the board of the Federal Judicial Center, and two committees of the Judicial Conference of the United States: the committee now named the Advisory Committee on Codes of Conduct, from 1979 to 1987, and the Committee on Pacific Territories from 1979 to 1990, which he chaired from 1982 to 1990. He was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in 1975. President Reagan later nominated him as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and he took his seat February 18, 1988. Justice Kennedy left active service on the Supreme Court and assumed senior status on July 31, 2018.

Product Details
ISBN: 9781668052747
ISBN-10: 1668052741
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: October 1st, 2024
Pages: 320
Language: English