Justice Kennedy comes back to HLS to mark 20 years on the Supreme Court

kennedyAssociate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy ’61 of the U.S. Supreme Court came to Harvard Law School this week for a two-day celebration of the 20th anniversary of his appointment to the Court.

On Monday night, Justice Kennedy and his wife Mary were the guests of honor at a dinner in Langdell Hall’s Caspersen Room, attended by a number of HLS faculty members, including three of his former law clerks: Allen Ferrell ’95, Jack Goldsmith, and Matthew Stephenson ’03.

Earlier on Monday, Kennedy spent some time with students in Professor Noah Feldman’s 1L course “The Constitution and the International Order.” Yesterday, he addressed a larger group of students in Austin Hall’s Ames Courtroom, speaking off-the-record for half an hour and then fielding questions on a broad range of subjects.

Introducing him at the Ames Courtroom event, Dean Elena Kagan ’86 said: “Justice Kennedy has been widely described as the Supreme Court’s most influential member—the critical ‘swing vote’ on a sharply divided Court. But I think this description fails to capture the essence of what makes Justice Kennedy such an important figure: His independence, his integrity, his unique and evolving vision. Far from swinging between positions defined by others, Justice Kennedy has consistently charted his own course.”

Kennedy received his B.A. from Stanford University and the London School of Economics, and his LL.B. from Harvard Law School. He was in private practice in San Francisco, California from 1961 to 1963, and 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 was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in 1975.

President Reagan appointed nominated him as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court and he was confirmed by a unanimous vote of the Senate, taking his seat on the Court on February 18, 1988.

Last year, the Law School held a similar set of events to honor Justice Antonin Scalia ’60 for his 20 years of service on the Court. In addition to Kennedy and Scalia, four other current justices attended HLS: David Souter ’66, Ruth Bader Ginsberg ’56-’58, Stephen Breyer ’64, and Chief Justice John Roberts ’79.