Monday, June 30, 2008
Joyce Luther Kennard (b. May 6, 1941) is an Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court. Born in a Japanese concentration camp in the province of West Java in Indonesia, English is not her native language. Appointed by Governor George Deukmejian in 1989, Justice Kennard is the longest-serving justice sitting on the Court, having been retained by California's voters three times.
Justice Kennard immigrated to Los Angeles in 1961. In 1974, she graduated from the Gould School of Law at the University of Southern California, where she also earned her Bachelor's Degree. Justice Kennard worked as a secretary to pay for her education.
Appointed to the Los Angeles Municipal Court in 1986, Kennard was elevated in 1987 to the California Superior Court and elevated again, in 1988, to the California Court of Appeal. Finally, in 1989, Governor George Deukmejian appointed her to the California Supreme Court. Upon taking her oath, Justice Kennard became the second woman and the first Asian American to serve as a justice on the Court.
During her time on the bench, Justice Kennard has authored numerous high-profile opinions, the best-known of which is Kasky v. Nike, 27 Cal. 4th 939 (2002). In that case, the California Supreme Court held that Nike could not claim a First Amendment "commercial free speech" defense when charged with lying about sweatshop conditions in its overseas manufacturing plants.
Justice Kennard has a reputation for aggressive questioning during oral argument. She often asks the first question in a given case.
Justice Kennard's leg having been amputated when she was a teenager and she Kennard walks with the help of a prosthesis.
Justice Kennard has been the recipient of many awards and honorary degrees and is very involved in her community.