Pepperdine University School of Law hosted the Honorable Anthony M. Kennedy, associate justice, United States Supreme Court for the fourth annual William French Smith Memorial Lecture on Feb. 3 in Henry J. and Gloria Caruso Auditorium.
Justice Kennedy spoke in conversation with Ken Starr, Duane and Kelly Roberts Dean of the School of Law, Babette Boliek, assistant professor of law, Donald Earl Childress III, associate professor of law, and alumna Mary Huebert Lang, associate at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP.
The discussion included topics such as the career of Justice Kennedy and the role of the Supreme Court. Justice Kennedy reflected on growing up around public servants in Sacramento, California; on cases that "teach;" on the art of opinion writing; and on the civility amongst justices on the Court.
Justice Kennedy offered comments on the importance of sentencing, calling himself "against" mandatory sentencing and reproving California's three strikes law. He added, "I was very glad to see, Dean Starr, that you offer a course in sentencing. Very few law schools do, and it is an important part of our justice system."
Justice Kennedy studied at the London School of Economics, Stanford University, and Harvard Law School. Following law school, he established a private practice in Sacramento that spanned criminal and civil litigation, probate and estate planning, and corporate and international transactions. A model he designed to allow American corporate investment in Mexico was approved by the Mexican government and remains in use today.
In 1975, Justice Kennedy was appointed to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit by President Ford, at the time making him the youngest appellate judge in the nation and the third youngest in history. He served for years as a member of the Committee on the Codes of Judicial Conduct of the Judicial Conference and has chaired its Pacific Territories Committee, which assists emerging judiciaries in the West Pacific. He was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Reagan in 1988 and unanimously confirmed by the Senate.
Awards bestowed on Justice Kennedy include the Learned Hand Award from the New York City Bar Association, the ABA’s John Marshal Award, the Lewis F. Powell, Jr. Award from the American Inns of Court, and the University of Virginia’s Thomas Jefferson Medal. He has also received the ABA Medal for Distinguished Service to the law and the profession, making him only the tenth Justice ever to receive the award in its nearly 100-year history.
The William French Smith Memorial Lecture marked the fourth time Justice Kennedy has visited Pepperdine University School of Law.