Anthony Kennedy & the Ethos of America


Justice Anthony Kennedy
Justice Anthony Kennedy

Fayetteville, AR –-( The decision of Justice Anthony Kennedy to retire from the Supreme Court is but the latest episode of the reality TV show that our politics have become in this century.

If someone wants to convince me that an eighty-one-year-old man coming to the conclusion that he’s worked long enough is not a believable story, I’ll need some evidence for that, something more than the conspiracy theory that’s floating about at present (Did Anthony Kennedy Resign from the Supreme Court to Protect His Son?). But the headlines have been grabbed, and the hands are wringing, and our attention will last until the next member of the Sciuridae family runs by.

Whatever we may suspect about Kennedy’s motivations, his judicial philosophy was more indepth than adding an R or a D after his name. Though I don’t think he was unfailingly consistent, I do see a commitment to individual rights in the positions he took over the years on the bench. For purposes of this magazine, his joining with the majority on Heller and McDonald should be an inspiration—or better yet, a precedent—to all future members of the judicial branch.

But Kennedy stood out as a swing vote, though he has stated that he hates that label, saying that “the cases swing. I don’t.”

A better way to put it is to say that he made up his own mind, rather than caring about being seen as ideologically pure. The idea that he has been seen as unreliable or unpredictable does illustrate the division in the country, a division that is difficult to explain in any way beyond identification with a tribe.

As traditional and thus comforting as this separation is, leaving rights up to how the political football gets moved about the field is a fine way to see those rights violated.

For example, it’s a difficult thing for people to understand how a justice could see that we have both the right to own firearms and the right to engage in intimate acts with and even to marry someone of the same sex.

What a better country we could have if that surprise didn’t exist if we didn’t see individual choices about our private lives as having any relevance to our political debates. We can argue over trade policy or military intervention in foreign conflicts and other things that involve all of us working together or putting up with each other, but how we organize our lives and our property ought to be each person’s business only.

I’d like to believe that the two major parties could come to this understanding, but I have no reason to hope for that. During the 2016 election, I saw people on the left who support gun rights, myself included, dismissed as Bernie Bros by a Democratic establishment and their supporters who had decided things in advance, and too often, I see the right wing treating the idea of an armed liberal as either akin to a unicorn or as a danger to the country. And we’ve all got to work on this, whether doing so requires new parties or can be done by shifting the platforms of the ones we labor under presently.

Greg Camp
Greg Camp

About Greg Camp

Greg Camp has taught English composition and literature since 1998 and is the author of six books, including a western, The Willing Spirit, and Each One, Teach One, with Ranjit Singh on gun politics in America. His books can be found on Amazon. He tweets @gregcampnc.

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H. Spires

I think that Justice Kennedy passed judgement on his final case. He didn’t want to risk letting the DemoRats have a chance to block his replacement. By retiring now he more or less passed judgement on the left as being too far off the values and morals of the true America that he represented sitting on the SCOTUS. Thank you for retiring when you did Justice Kennedy. You have served the country honorably and now I hope you have some time to enjoy your life.



Green Mtn. Boy

Freedom and Liberty will celebrate when the next Leftard justice retires or kicks,then is when the Liberty bell should sing out in glorious tones.