The more one analyzes the US Supreme Court in recent years, it is more clear than ever that we should call it the Anthony Kennedy Court, rather than the John Roberts Court!
Kennedy, appointed to the Supreme Court by Ronald Reagan in 1988 as a compromise choice who could pass Senate muster, after the well publicized rejection of Robert Bork in 1987, has now been on the Court for 24 years, and is seen more than ever as the “swing vote” on the Court, first sharing that with former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, until her retirement in 2005, but now all by himself as the most significant vote on the Court.
Kennedy, basically a conservative but with an open mind, has leaned to the Right two thirds of the time, and to the Left one third of the time on the average.
It is seen by just about all Court watchers that Kennedy’s vote on the Obama Health Care legislation is crucial, as to whether it survives or goes down.
Kennedy disappointed many on the left in being in the majority on the Bush V. Gore case of 2000, the Citizens United case of 2010, and the Strip Search case of this past Monday. But at the same time, he upheld the rights of gays to privacy in the Lawrence V. Texas case of 2003, enraging fellow Justice Antonin Scalia.
His questioning about the Obama Health Care law last week showed the quandary he is in, and he is getting pressure from many sources to uphold the law, but the belief is that he will not give in to pressure, and might even be tempted to go with the other conservative Justices in overturning the law.
The theory is that IF Kennedy goes with upholding the law, that Chief Justice John Roberts will join him, making it a 6-3 vote, but that if he decides to negate the law, then the vote will be a partisan 5-4 vote against the legislation.
So to call the present Court the Kennedy Court seems very appropriate!