Wednesday’s announcement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s long-anticipated retirement has launched the discussion that will dominate the news for the next four or five months.
It’s a discussion Christians should join. After all, there’s so much at stake in who is chosen as his successor. To put it simply, the stakes are much higher with this nomination than they were with Justice Gorsuch replacing the late Antonin Scalia. In that case, the President was replacing one conservative justice with another.
But this time around, Kennedy’s replacement could alter the philosophical balance on the Court. Of course, Justice Kennedy is no “liberal.” He was very often the fifth vote in cases of importance to conservatives, especially in this past term where he voted with conservative justices in all fourteen 5-4 votes.
But he certainly was not conservative in his views on issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage. He, along with Justices O’Connor and Souter, authored the decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which not only saved Roe but created an entirely new rationale for the right to abortion.
That now-infamous “mystery passage” stated that “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”
Four years later, in Romer v. Evans, he wrote that Colorado’s Amendment 2, which prohibited state and local governments from including sexual orientation as a protected class in anti-discrimination laws, could only be based on animus toward LGBT people.
Then in 2003, in Lawrence v. Texas which overturned Texas’s anti-sodomy statute, he wrote that the law “furthers no legitimate state interest which can justify its intrusion into the personal and private life of the individual.”