Saturday, June 16, 2007

Jeffrey Rosen on Justice Kennedy

Rosen In the New Republic, Jeffrey Rosen writes:


Supreme Leader

Anthony Kennedy seems most at home when he is lecturing others about morality. And now all of us have little choice but to pay attention. With the retirement of Sandra Day O'Connor, Kennedy is relishing his role as the new swing justice on an evenly divided court. As Kennedy goes, so goes America: As he votes to uphold partial-birth abortion laws or to strike down President Bush's military tribunals, lo shall they be upheld or struck down. Fawning lawyers must write briefs to Kennedy alone, and breathless commentators try to predict which laws he will bless or reprove....

The grandiosity of Kennedy's self-image was on full display in a 2005 interview he gave to the Academy of Achievement, a group that seeks to inspire youth by promoting virtues like courage and integrity. In his interview, Kennedy made clear that he thinks the Court plays a more important role in American life than Congress. "You know, in any given year, we may make more important decisions than the legislative branch does--precluding foreign affairs, perhaps," he said. "Important in the sense that it will control the direction of society." When asked to name the most important qualities for achievement in his field, he replied: "To have an understanding that you have an opportunity to shape the destiny of the country." And that is exactly what Anthony Kennedy has set out to do.

Rosen has been considerably more generous in his assessments of Chief Justice Roberts.  See this post.

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