As a public service, here is a running list of some of the articles related to Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement. Kennedy made it clear from his votes in the last session that he wants to make sure that his seat is filled with a reliable Republican (which means while Mitch McConnell’s Republican Party still has control of the United States Senate.) For that – and for the obvious fact that he is doing this simply so that he will still be invited to the best Washington cocktail parties – he deserves our scorn.
#WeCanFixThis. Get out the vote and get out *and* vote!
- Wonkette: GO FK YOURSELF, ANTHONY KENNEDY
Kennedy is the “swing vote” whose swing lately has been all about letting Trump ban Muslims (national security), killing unions (First Amendment), saving Christianity from gay cakes (First Amendment again), saving crisis pregnancy centers from having to say they don’t have medical personnel on staff (what a busy First Amendment!), and murdering voting rights (no reason). And that’s all just in the past week.
Good fking riddance, Anthony Kennedy.
- Mark Joseph Stern, Slate: Anthony Kennedy Just Destroyed His Legacy as a Gay Rights Hero
It’s no secret that Justice Anthony Kennedy, who announced his imminent retirement on Wednesday, always had an eye toward his legacy. During this 30-year tenure on the Supreme Court, Kennedy often wrote grandiose opinions that seemed designed to be quoted and admired by future generations. That line of thinking was particularly evident in a series of decisions protecting gay Americans’ right to equal dignity. Yet by choosing to retire under President Donald Trump, Kennedy imperils that legacy, throwing his most celebrated and far-reaching decisions into serious jeopardy.
- Ian Millhiser, ThinkProgress: Justice Kennedy deserves this nasty, unflinching sendoff
Anthony Kennedy was a horrible justice, and his last decision was his worst. […] Kennedy was a Cadillac’s intellect in a Lamborghini’s job. His writing ranged from needlessly flowery to completely incoherent. And, while his views sometimes placed him to the left of men like Scalia and Bork, his “liberal” opinions were frequently his most incomprehensible.
- Scott Lemieux, LGM: Anthony Trump Kennedy, A Non-Appreciation
Anthony Kennedy’s legacy will be, quite simply, as one of the most critical enablers of Donald Trump and his increasingly white nationalist and anti-democratic Republican Party. Anthony Kennedy’s legacy could have been as a conservative respected for providing key votes to uphold a woman’s right to choose and the right to same-sex marriage. Instead, he shall be remembered as one of the most important allies of President Donald Trump’s pro-business white nationalism.
- Dahlia Lithwick, Slate: Why Anthony Kennedy Gave Up and Joined Team Trump
It was always more fan fiction than reality that Justice Anthony Kennedy was a moderate centrist. Democrats liked to soothe themselves with the story that Kennedy was a moderate because he’d provided the fifth vote to support continued affirmative action, reproductive rights, and gay rights and had strung the left along with the tantalizing promise of someday finding an unconstitutional political gerrymander.[…]
Many of us predicted that Kennedy would not allow Trump to replace him with someone who would dismantle his legacy. We were wrong. Many of us believed that a lifelong devotee of dignity, civility, and the rule of law would not want his work tarnished by a president who routinely attacks individual judges and the very notion of an independent judiciary. We were wrong. That two of Anthony Kennedy’s last judicial acts included a letter that opened “My dear Mr. President” and a vote to grant that same president a virtual blank check on the national security front certainly suggests that nothing about a president who lies, bullies, and destabilizes the rule of law was any kind of real impediment to Kennedy’s departure.
- Paul Campos, LGM: The death of democracy
In December of 2000, five Republican justices of the Supreme Court out and out stole the 2000 presidential election. Al Gore would have become president of the United States if the laws of the state of Florida had been enforced by that state’s supreme court, as they indeed would have been if not for this completely lawless act of judicial hijacking.
One significant consequence of that hijacking was that Bush got to put two young hard right ideologues on the Court. […]
In the spring of 2016, Mitch McConnell out and out stole another Supreme Court seat, by violating every precedent and custom in order to block the nomination of Merrick Garland. McConnell completed this theft in 2017 by eliminating the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations, in order to put yet another youthful right wing zealot in the stolen seat.
But that act of legal and political grand larceny couldn’t have been completed if the 2016 presidential election hadn’t been stolen from Hillary Clinton by a combination of the absurdly anti-democratic nature of the electoral college (Clinton got nearly three million more votes than Trump), the willingness of various members of the Trump campaign, including quite possibly Trump himself, to collude with America’s enemy Vladimir Putin to throw the election to Putin’s preferred candidate, the reckless narcissism of third party candidate Jill Stein, and last but far from least, the mind-boggling incompetence shading into malevolence of the legacy media, which decided to treat Hillary Clinton’s email protocol practices as a vastly more significant story than the treasonous behavior of the Trump campaign.
I will settle on this take (for now):
– Kennedy had two moments of decency and from that we built a narrative of him as The Good Justice. Yet that ignored that he wrote the majority opinion for Citizens United, he voted to kill the Affordable Care Act (our 5th vote to save it was Roberts’), he VOTED FOR BUSH in Bush v Gore, and he supported the gutting of the Voting Rights Act not once but twice. His votes supporting Roe v Wade were the result of the arguments put forth by his former colleague Sandra Day O’Connor which he felt compelled by consistency to uphold. His Lawrence and Obergefell rulings are the only time he stepped out of the conservative mainstream to rule in favor of human rights – that he is willing to walk away from that progress knowing what will happen says a lot (bad) about him.
A reminder: We. Have. No. Power. To. Block. Any. Nomination. Our Senators will issue press releases which we will dutifully retweet, we will all rail about the hypocrisy of Mitch McConnell and his destruction of Senate norms (p.s. he doesn’t care) and a new justice will be confirmed in August, in time for the new term. We should not waste any political capital on blocking – it is a lost cause – but we can use the Supreme Court as another reminder for the midterms that we can take control of at least one of the branches of government if we get out the vote.
Focus on the midterms, take back Congress. Then let’s see where we are in January 2019.