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Justice Kennedy to ABA: ‘The Work of Freedom Has Just Begun’


— August 13, 2007

In an emotional address to the American Bar Association, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy on Monday implored the nation’s lawyers to constantly re-examine their conduct to be sure they exemplify principles of justice and fairness and advocate for the rule of law around the world.

Kennedy, 71, received the association’s Medal of Honor, its highest award, for a career of advancing the rule of law and advocating for improvements in the profession and administration of justice. Nearing his 20th anniversary on the nation’s highest court, Kennedy recalled his early days as a lawyer and choked up as he thanked his family for supporting his career.

In a reference that could be taken as a defense of his own work on the Court, Kennedy said lawyers “must never cease asking, ‘Why am I doing this? What inner voice is telling me to decide the case this way?'” Kennedy told the assembled House of Delegates. Such introspection, he said, “is not indecision, it is fidelity to your oath.”

Especially on the newly configured Roberts Court, Kennedy is a crucial swing vote, and his agonizing and occasional vote switches are legendary.

Kennedy said the association and the profession should be proud of its role in advancing justice worldwide. “The American lawyer has an honored place in the history of human progress,” Kennedy said. But worldwide, he said, the legal system Americans take for granted is unknown to millions. If American lawyers don’t seek to spread legal structures and principles around the world, Kennedy said, “The rule of law and our freedom is not secure.

“There is hurt to assuage … There is injustice to be confronted,” Kennedy concluded. “The work of freedom has just begun.”

Details here from Tony Mauro of Legal Times via Law.com.


In an emotional address to the American Bar Association, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy on Monday implored the nation’s lawyers to constantly re-examine their conduct to be sure they exemplify principles of justice and fairness and advocate for the rule of law around the world.

Kennedy, 71, received the association’s Medal of Honor, its highest award, for a career of advancing the rule of law and advocating for improvements in the profession and administration of justice. Nearing his 20th anniversary on the nation’s highest court, Kennedy recalled his early days as a lawyer and choked up as he thanked his family for supporting his career.

In a reference that could be taken as a defense of his own work on the Court, Kennedy said lawyers “must never cease asking, ‘Why am I doing this? What inner voice is telling me to decide the case this way?'” Kennedy told the assembled House of Delegates. Such introspection, he said, “is not indecision, it is fidelity to your oath.”

Especially on the newly configured Roberts Court, Kennedy is a crucial swing vote, and his agonizing and occasional vote switches are legendary.

Kennedy said the association and the profession should be proud of its role in advancing justice worldwide. “The American lawyer has an honored place in the history of human progress,” Kennedy said. But worldwide, he said, the legal system Americans take for granted is unknown to millions. If American lawyers don’t seek to spread legal structures and principles around the world, Kennedy said, “The rule of law and our freedom is not secure.

“There is hurt to assuage … There is injustice to be confronted,” Kennedy concluded. “The work of freedom has just begun.”

Details here from Tony Mauro of Legal Times via Law.com.

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