Anthony Kennedy: A Supreme Court Judge
Writer’s Workshop 7/8 D
Described by the New York Times as "energetic, self-effacing, and immensely polite,” Supreme Court Judge Anthony Kennedy is one of the few people both government parties value and respect. Being a Supreme Court judge, he has expressed his opinion on a wide variety of laws, some which have made an incredible change, making him a change maker. Important judgements that made him a change maker are: He made it illegal to execute killers who were under the age of 18 when they committed their crimes, he sided with same-sex marriage to become legal in all 50 states, and he granted the right to habeas corpus for prisoners in Guantanamo Bay Prison. These are examples of why Kennedy is a change maker by expressing his opinion and deciding on multiple laws in the Supreme Court that have had a transformative impact by increasing human rights in the US.
Kennedy was born on July 23, 1936, in Sacramento, CA. His parents are Anthony J. Kennedy, and Gladys McLeod. His father was a lawyer and lobbyist in the California legislature, and his mother was active in civic affairs. Kennedy was always a law-abiding citizen. As a child, it is said that his father once offered him $100 to get himself arrested by the police, but Kennedy refused. He went to McClatchy High School, Stanford University, London School of Economics, and Harvard Law School. When he was 27, his father unexpectedly died, and Kennedy took over the law practice. That same year, he got married to Mary Davis, who he had known for several years.
In 2005, he stated that it was unconstitutional to execute killers who committed their crime when they were under 18 years old. The law is now in place, and killers don’t have to suffer for a crime they committed, most likely, without the required mental stability for prosecution as an adult. For George Stinney Jr., who was not given a fair trial and was executed when he was only fourteen years old for a crime he did not commit, this change Kennedy made would have been life saving. Thankfully, this will not happen again and cases just like George Stinney Jr.’s won’t happen again.
Recently, in 2008, Kennedy made a significant step to maintain what is left of human rights for certain prisoners; he granted permission for non-American detainees of the Guantanamo Bay prison to have the right to seek habeas corpus, explaining that habeas review is less about prisoners’ rights than the judicial power to check undue use of executive power. The Guantanamo Bay prison was and is known for its unethical methods. Prisoners there are imprisoned indefinitely and without trial, and some say prisoners there are even tortured. This is critical because habeas corpus is, in many cases, the prisoner’s last resort to gaining justice where the system failed and the supreme court should be that last resort.
In 2015, Kennedy stated that it is unconstitutional for same sex marriage to be illegal. He said: “Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilisation’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The constitution grants them that right.” In a Democratic society that respects human rights, this ruling is a significant step forward to american civilization and its citizen’s liberty.
These are not only examples, they are representations of what Kennedy believes in: human rights. At the end of the day, Kennedy is not only a judge, but also a hero. He is an advocate for LGBTQ rights, prisoners in Guantanamo Bay Prison, and prisoners who committed their crime when under 18. He is a hero to millions of people, thanks to him, hundreds of thousands of families have had a chance. Hundreds of thousands of people can have true love, not needing to hide anymore. So many people have a second chance, thanks to him.
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