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A Supreme Court Justice Reflects on the Law

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy

Photo by Irene Fertik

During a two-day visit to campus last month, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy dazzled a standing-room-only crowd of law students with a freewheeling discussion. Topics covered during the hour-long Thursday, Nov. 19, exchange included racial diversity among law clerks, the value of opening the highest court to television, the chances of splitting in two the 9th Circuit Court (which covers the West) and the importance of oral arguments. The man who has been described by the Washington Post as “the justice to watch” because of his tendency to cast the fifth – and deciding – vote even described how he spends his summer (teaching in Salzburg for one month, then reading and spending time with his family.) But he seemed to perk the most ears when he extolled the value of law school. “I know that you are very busy and pressed,” Kennedy told the students, “but believe me – you have more time and opportunity to reflect on law here than you will ever again.”

On the following afternoon, Kennedy discussed “The Three R’s of Judicial Independence” as the keynote speaker at the Law School’s Judicial Independence and Accountability Symposium. The symposium gathered leading jurists, lawyers, legal scholars and social commentators to consider the proper balance of judicial independence and judicial accountability in our nation’s courts.

A Supreme Court Justice Reflects on the Law

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