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Anthony McLeod Kennedy (born July 23, 1936) has been an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court since 1988. Appointed by Republican President Ronald Reagan, he acts as the Court's swing vote on social issues and has consequently wields considerable power on today's Supreme Court.
Appointed by a Republican president, Kennedy’s tenure on the Court has seen him take a somewhat mixed ideological path; he usually takes a conservative viewpoint, but sometimes has looked at cases individually. Kennedy supports a broad reading of the "liberty" protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which means he supports a constitutional right to abortion in principle, though he has voted to uphold several restrictions on that right, including laws to prohibit partial-birth abortions. He is "tough on crime" and opposes creating constitutional restrictions on the police, especially in Fourth Amendment cases involving searches for illegal drugs, although there are some exceptions, such as his concurrence in Ferguson v. City of Charleston. He opposes affirmative action as promoting stereotypes of minorities. He also takes a very broad view of constitutional protection for speech under the First Amendment, invalidating a congressional law prohibiting "virtual" child pornography in the 2002 decision, Ashcroft v. ACLU.
According to legal writer Jeffrey Toobin, starting in 2003, Kennedy also became a leading proponent of the use of foreign and international law as an aid to interpreting the United States Constitution. Toobin sees this consideration of foreign law as the biggest factor behind Kennedy's occasional breaking with his most conservative colleagues. In these instances Kennedy attracts the ire of conservatives. According to Toobin, conservatives view Kennedy's pro-gay-rights and pro-abortion rulings as betrayals. In the wake of 1996's Romer v. Evans, Ramesh Ponnoru wrote in the National Review that Kennedy "is commonly acknowledged as the dimmest of the Court's intellectual lights"; in 2005, associate professor of law David M. Wagner called Kennedy "The worst of Ronald Reagan's appointees to the Court", and claimed he abandoned his conservative principles beginning in the 1990s in order to gain "the plaudits of the media and the Georgetown A-list." After 2008's Kennedy v. Louisiana, Rich Lowry called Kennedy the Supreme Court's "worst justice" and said that Kennedy's opinions "have nothing whatsoever to do with the Constitution", and amount to "making it up as he goes along."
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