Justice Kennedy

Posted: February 4, 2010 in Justice, Lessons

Just a few brief observations from the unique opportunity to hear Justice Anthony Kennedy yesterday:

#1: I was completely caught off-guard that he is hilarious. So entertaining. For those of you unable to attend, if I catch it when Pepperdine posts the video I’ll post a link so you can enjoy it, if for nothing else but entertainment value.

#2: He (with a deft assist from Dean Starr) totally blew off the chance to talk about his recent controversial opinion (about corporations and free speech). But I can’t criticize because, in another part of the presentation, he criticized those who form opinions about his “opinions” without actually reading them. Guilty as charged.

#3: For some reason, one point he made resonated with me. I don’t remember the exact wording, but he said something about “democracy depends on an educated citizenry.” I remember the context: He recalled many years ago, when Earl Warren was governor of California, there was actually a budget surplus in the state. They chose to spend it on education. I do think there comes a point–especially in the halls of higher education–where intellectual elitism sets in (which I’m saying is a bad thing). However, I think the point is well-taken. If we want to have a government “of the people,” then education ought to be a fundamental priority. I think Justice Kennedy and I are both implying that it doesn’t seem to be.

#4: Finally, I’ll note that I enjoyed Justice Kennedy’s taking the time to point out that there’s a difference between what he called “professional disagreement” and “personal disagreement.” For example, he talked about how he might rail at Scalia about how one of his decisions set back the state of the law for generations to come and then say, “Oh, don’t forget you and the wife are coming over for dinner tonight!” This sort of civility was what my friend, Sandi, referred to in her eloquent Facebook letter recently.

Well, I just have time to throw out a few thoughts this morning. When the video shows up, I’ll try to remember to post a link for all to have the opportunity to listen in.

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