Monday, July 03, 2006

Sandra Day and Anthony K.

Slate has a piece about the way Justice Anthony Kennedy has taken over Sandra Day O'Connor's role as swing voter in the cases that come before the Supreme Court--and because the court is more or less at an ideological deadlock, with Kennedy in the middle, the piece goes as far as to call him a Supreme Court of One. Even more interesting is the piece's description of his tendency to decide cases on narrower grounds than his peers, and then to either write the majority opinion, or attach an individual concurring opinion to the majority opinion. It is the narrowest interpretation of a case that goes on to become law, so Kennedy is in effect moderating the more extreme opinions of the justices to either side of him when he does this. Finally, the piece engages in a little character analysis of Justice Kennedy, and notes that he is the most malleable--some might say open-minded--of the justices on the court, and is prone to be swayed by the opinions of others. He is also, it would appear, rather vain, very much enjoying the spotlight that his new role gives him. The article points out that Kennedy is suddenly oft-cited by his supreme peers in their opinions and briefings, and wonders if this isn't the other justices trying their darndest to appeal to his vanity and curry favor so they can nudge him to vote their way.


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