Entries in Justice Anthony Kennedy (2)


Justice Kennedy Seen as Key to Obamacare Decision

Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- Republican attorneys general and senators were all talking about Justice Anthony Kennedy Tuesday afternoon as they left the Supreme Court.

The challengers of President Obama’s health care law appear to believe that if they can persuade Kennedy to vote that the measure is unconstitutional, they’ll have enough justices in their favor.

“All eyes were on Justice Kennedy today,” said Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning. “He seemed skeptical of the government’s argument.”

Kennedy told the lawyers in the room that “the government is saying that the federal government has a duty to tell the individual citizen that it must act, and that is different from what we have in previous cases, and that changes the relationship of the Federal Government to the individual in the very fundamental way.”

Attorneys General Pam Bondi of Florida and Alan Wilson of South Carolina also told ABC News that they were paying close attention to Kennedy’s comments Tuesday morning. Bondi called his questions “fair and thoughtful.”

GOP Senators Mike Lee and John Cornyn, who were inside the room, described Kennedy’s questioning as indicative of his reluctance to embrace the so-called health care mandate. Lee said that based on Kennedy’s questions, facial expressions and body language, he determined that the justice was “leaning toward” voting against Obamacare. A key question, Lee said, was Kennedy’s remark suggesting that government could have too much power to compel people to do something, in this instance buy health care according to the individual mandate.

Texas’s attorney general, Greg Abbott, characterized the morning’s session by saying that five of the justices -- a bare majority -- focused their questions on the “unprecedented encroachment” of the government purportedly allowed by the health law.

Abbott included Clarence Thomas, who has not asked a question in oral arguments in more than six years, in with those five who seemed to view the mandate as encroachment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Justices Kennedy and Breyer Testify at House Appropriations Hearing

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Justices Anthony Kennedy and Stephen Breyer appeared before Congress Thursday to discuss the Supreme Court's proposed 2012 budget in a hearing that touched upon serious economic issues but also strayed into the justices' use of social media, the code of judicial conduct and whether the court was correct to close its front doors to entering tourists.

In his opening statement to the House Appropriations Subcommittee -- which is charged with reviewing the court's budget -- Kennedy said the court recognized that the government "must be extremely careful in terms of its stewardship of the taxpayers' dollars" but that the court's budget request included cost-containment measures.

Subcommittee members, at times, seemed more intrigued by the workings of the Supreme Court.

"Do you tweet?" asked Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark.

Kennedy dodged the question, but praised social media for bringing greater interest to public affairs.

"The law lives in the consciousness of the people, and to the extent there is greater interest, and greater interest in public affairs and that finds its way into the social media, I think that is all for the good."

But Justice Breyer dug right in. He said he had followed the recent Iranian uprising by monitoring a Twitter feed.

"The only way you could do it," the justice said, "was to go through the Tweet or the tweeter."

But he added that he doesn't allow himself to have Twitter or Facebook followers.

"It's not a good idea on balance," he said to laughter. "Judges wear black robes so that they will resist the temptation to publicize themselves, because we really speak for the law and that is to be anonymous."

The justices also were asked about the decision to close the court's front doors to entering tourists.

Kennedy said that the court recently "spent millions of dollars on an updated security facility," but decided, after talking to experts, that visitors no longer should be able to enter through the main front entrance. While visitors can leave the court through the front of the building, they are required to enter through side doors equipped with security checkpoints. Kennedy said that, from a security perspective, entering from the side entrance is "mandatory."

But Breyer disagreed. He reiterated his position that it had been a "close and difficult question," but that the majority of the court made the wrong decision in closing the main entrance, which stands below an inscription that reads "Equal justice under law."

"They should have left it open," he said. "I read the same [security advisories]."

Breyer said he hoped that, eventually, "things will calm down," and the front doors will be open as an entrance for every visitor.

Members of the committee were concerned whether the court felt the budget contained enough funds for security. Kennedy said he thought it did and discussed the recent shooting of Chief Judge John Roll in Arizona, saying, "We are always aware of security threats."

Asked about provisions of the budget that included technology expenditures, Kennedy talked about the "quiet revolution" that has occurred with the advancement of technology. He noted -- in awe -- that the court has a new website that gets 59 million hits a month and that opinions now are posted and analyzed on blogs hours after they have been released.

Rep. Jose Serrano, D-N.Y., asked whether the code of judicial conduct -- a set of ethical principles adopted by the Judicial Conference -- should be binding to Supreme Court justices. Currently, the code only applies to lower court judges, although Supreme Court justices often follow the guidelines.

Kennedy said he did not feel the code should be binding.

"There's a legal or constitutional dissonance or problem," he said, noting that the rules are made by district and appellate court justices. "We would find it structurally unprecedented for district or appellate court judges to make rules that the Supreme Court would follow."

Justice Breyer said, "We do follow the rules and they do apply," but he added that, unlike in the lower courts, if a Supreme Court justice recuses himself from a case his vote cannot be replaced.

Kennedy added that if the court deadlocks 4-4 on an issue, the lower court ruling stands.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio