NPR

A Brief History Of Anthony Kennedy's Swing Vote — And The Landmark Cases It Swayed

For 30 years the justice has been known for breaking ties between the Supreme Court's liberal and conservative blocs — which means Kennedy has played a key role in many major cases. Here's a look.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, seen here during congressional testimony in 2015, has played a pivotal role on the Supreme Court since he was sworn in 30 years ago. Source: Pete Marovich

Updated at 7:50 p.m. ET

Justice Anthony Kennedy announced Wednesday he would be retiring from the Supreme Court. With him go his three decades of experience on the bench and, more politically pressing, his moderate legal philosophy.

It was this centrist streak that made his vote the key in many deeply divisive cases — so many, in fact, that Kennedy earned himself a reputation as the court's quintessential "swing vote."

Kennedy himself was no fan of the term. "The cases swing," he once said. "I don't." But when the high court's conservative and liberal blocs appeared at a stalemate — a fairly frequent occurrence in recent years — it would be no surprise to find his name in the slim majority when the ruling was released.

On the , it's worth

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from NPR

NPR5 min read
San Diego Comic-Con Is Turning 50: Here's Its Origin Story
50 years ago, a bunch of teenaged comics fans got together to plan a convention, and what started with 300 people in a hotel basement became the pop culture juggernaut known as San Diego Comic Con.
NPR4 min readPolitics
Hoping For Improved U.S. Ties, Pakistan's Prime Minister Set To Visit White House
Tensions have beset the U.S.-Pakistan relationship for years. The planned July 22 meeting between President Trump and Imran Khan comes as the U.S. tries to finalize Afghanistan peace negotiations.
NPR4 min read
Notre Dame Fire Revives Demand For Skilled Stone Carvers In France
"With stone carving, we give life to an edifice and perpetuate history. We're also creating a link with the past and transmitting values that are important to conserve in society," one student says.