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The Evolution of Justice Kennedy's Jurisprudence

MLR Kennedy Symposium Attracts Attention

April 12, 2012

Tags: 2012

For many years, the McGeorge Law Review has hosted legal symposia centered on issues of timely legal importance. This year, in celebration of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy's 25th year of service on the U.S. Supreme Court, the law journal forum examined "The Evolution of Justice Kennedy's Jurisprudence."

The law review editors, led by Chief Symposium Editor Tamana Zhublawar, '12, assembled an impressive array of constitution law scholars including a number of former Kennedy clerks to reflect on Kennedy's most noteworthy opinions. This year's symposium, held on April 6, was well-attended by students, prospective students, alumni and faculty. "The testament to how good this symposium was is that some people who had said they would just drop in ended up staying all day," Associate Dean Julie Davies said. "It was hard to pull away from it. Tamana and her faculty advisors, Michael Vitiello and Clark Kelso, should be very proud of a conference that reflected so well on the entire law school."

The presenters included McGeorge faculty members John Sprankling, Larry Levine, Charles Kelso, Steve McCaffrey and Linda Carter. Moderators included Brian Landsberg, Davies and Vitiello.

Professor Randy Beck of the University of Georgia, Professor Gregory Maggs of George Washington University, Levine and Sprankling comprised the "Life, Liberty & Property" panel. Beck emphasized that few areas of the Supreme Court's jurisprudence have attracted as much attention in recent decades as the case law recognizing a constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy. "Kennedy has exercised more influence over the Court's abortion jurisprudence than perhaps any other sitting justice," he said.

Charles Kelso, Professor Randall Kelso of South Texas College of Law, and Professor Ashutosh Bhagwat of UC Davis discussed Kennedy's impact on First Amendment cases. McCaffrey explored Kennedy's willingness to support his opinions for the Court by referring to the practice of other countries and institutions. Bhagwat said that Kennedy has earned a reputation as being the foremost defender of free speech principles on the modern Court.

Professor Stephen Bibas of the University of Pennsylvania, Professor Robert Weisberg of Stanford, and Carter examined Kennedy's impact on criminal justice issues. Looking at recent important Sixth Amendment opinions, Bibas said that Kennedy has stood as a notable voice of pragmatism, focusing not on bygone analogies to the eighteenth century but a hard-headed appreciation of the realities of the twenty-first.

Justice Kennedy taught Constitutional Law at McGeorge from 1965 to 1988. He continued his service as a faculty member of the law school for 25 more years teaching Fundamental Rights in Europe and the United States each summer in Salzburg, Austria.