Anthony McLeod Kennedy was born on 23rd July 1936, in a then little-known-about town of Sacramento, California (White, 2007). His father, Anthony J. Kennedy, was a dock worker who progressed from his menial job in San Francisco to attend college and afterwards practice law. He soon became a common figure in the California Legislature and a renowned lobbyist. His mother, Gladys McLeod, on the other hand, was in the forefront in civic affairs. These might be some of the catalyzing facts that introduced young Kennedy into the world of law. Through his parents, he was able to meet and rub shoulders with prominent personalities in politics, in the government and in law (Hall, 2001). He gradually developed an interest and liking for the public service.
Anthony was a brilliant student and throughout his stay at McClatchy High School in Sacramento, he amazed teachers and fellow students (White, 2007). He eventually graduated in 1954 and proceeded to join Stanford University, the same University where his mother had studied. After three years at Stanford, he graduated and later joined the London School of Economics where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science after one year. He went on with his education and attended Harvard Law School, where he graduated from in 1961. Kennedy passed the bar in 1962 but it was only after the unexpected demise of the father that he started practicing law fully (Italia, 1992).
Kennedy followed in his father’s footsteps and became a lobbyist in California, too. He soon interacted and was acquainted to Ronald Reagan who was then a governor. He helped Reagan draft a proposition aimed at reducing ballot spending. It was Reagan who recommended Kennedy to be appointed in the United States Court of Appeals. He was appointed by President Gerald Ford at only thirty eight years of age, making him the youngest Appeals Court judge in the nation at the time. In 1988, he was appointed an Associate Justice in the Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan (White, 2007).
In the Carter administration, most judges were liberals. However, Anthony Kennedy was one of the minority conservatives. In the event of politically charged decisions, his calm and composed demeanor allowed him to make sound decisions. Some of these decisions were phenomenal in bringing the court back to civility especially during divisive periods (Hall, 2001).