Skip to Content

Anthony Kennedy Fast Facts

CNN Editorial Research

Here’s a look at the life of Anthony Kennedy, retired associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.


Birth date: July 23, 1936

Birth place: Sacramento, California

Birth name: Anthony McLeod Kennedy

Father: Anthony J. Kennedy, lawyer and lobbyist

Mother: Gladys (McLeod) Kennedy, civic leader

Marriage: Mary (Davis) Kennedy (1963-present)

Children: Justin, Gregory and Kristin

Education: London School of Economics, 1957-1958; Stanford University B.A. in Political Science, 1954-1958; Harvard Law School LL.B., 1961

Military Service: California Army National Guard, 1961, private first class

Religion: Roman Catholic

Other Facts

He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

While a Sacramento lawyer in private practice, he was also a lobbyist.

His nomination to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals by President Gerald Ford was a result of his being recommended by California’s then governor, Ronald Reagan.

He is known for his reverence for legal precedent, for creating unlikely coalitions among the justices, and for being a strong advocate of free speech.

Kennedy taught for 29 years at the University of Salzburg in Austria during the court’s summer recess. The class was offered as part of the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law’s summer program.


1962 – Kennedy is admitted to the California Bar.

19611963 – Practices law at the firm of Thelen, Marrin, John & Bridges in San Francisco.

1963 – After his father’s sudden death, Kennedy takes over his law practice in Sacramento.

1965-1988 – Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law.

1973 – Helps draft Proposition 1, a California ballot initiative to limit state spending, which later fails.

May 30, 1975-February 2, 1988 – Judge, Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit.

November 11, 1987 – To fill the seat vacated by Justice Lewis Powell’s retirement, President Reagan nominates Kennedy to the Supreme Court after the confirmation failures of nominees Robert Bork and Douglas Ginsburg.

February 3, 1988 – The Senate votes unanimously to confirm his appointment.

February 18, 1988 – Kennedy is sworn in as the 104th justice of the Supreme Court.

June 29, 1992 – Angers conservatives by coauthoring, with Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and David Souter, the opinion of the court in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, to uphold Roe v. Wade.

March 1, 2005 – Writes the majority opinion for the 5-4 ruling in Roper v. Simmons, stating that executing killers who were under age 18 when they committed their crimes is unconstitutional.

April 18, 2007 – Voting with conservatives in the 5-4 decision in Gonzales v. Carhart, Kennedy writes the majority opinion to uphold the nationwide ban on partial birth abortions.

June 12, 2008 – In Boumediene v. Bush, Kennedy writes the majority 5-4 opinion, assessing that the language of the Constitution grants the Guantánamo Bay prison detainees the right to seek habeas corpus.

June 25, 2012 – Writes the opinion of the court in Arizona v. United States, overturning three sections of Arizona’s 2010 immigration law.

June 26, 2013 – Kennedy writes the majority opinion of the court in United States v. Windsor, striking down part of the Defense of Marriage Act.

June 26, 2015 – Kennedy writes the landmark majority opinion of the court in Obergefell v. Hodges, making same-sex marriage legal in all 50 US states.

June 23, 2016 – Kennedy writes the majority opinion in Fisher v. University of Texas, upholding the right of universities to consider race as one factor in admissions.

June 27, 2018 – Writes a letter to President Donald Trump announcing his retirement from the Supreme Court effective July 31, 2018.

™ & © 2024 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - National

Jump to comments ↓

CNN Newsource


KTVZ NewsChannel 21 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content