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June 27, 2018

Just a few Justice Kennedy sentencing jurisprudence highlights

The fine folks at the Legal Information Institute appear to have all of retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy's Supreme Court opinions assembled at this link.  Here is my quick accounting of just a few of his significant sentencing rulings (in chronological order):

This list includes only lead opinions for the Court (though technically Harmelin is a concurrence), and I am sure I have not listed every opinion that sentencing fans might consider a big part of the Kennedy legacy.  But this abridged list alone showcases what a extraordinarily consequential "Sentencing Justice" that Anthony Kennedy has been during his 30+ years on the Court.  

For a variety of complicated personal reasons, Koon may be my favorite of the opinions on this list and Harmelin is certainly my least favorite.  And I would be eager to hear in the comments about favorites or opinions not mentioned above that are part of the "sentencing footprint" that Justice Kennedy is leaving.

Prior related post:

June 27, 2018 at 03:52 PM | Permalink


Out of those you listed the one that I worry most about is Kennedy vs LA. I have my issues with justice Kennedy's jurisprudence generally speaking but I admit that this particular ruling took courage. If future generations look back on this era with any sense of approval the one thing they will say is,"well at least the justice system didn't sanction the wholesale slaughter of the pedophiles." Maybe that is damning with faint praise but at least it will be praise.

Posted by: Daniel | Jun 27, 2018 6:58:28 PM

Honestly, part of the biggest reason I was surprised he retired without waiting for midterms is because these cases are the most likely to be placed in jeopardy by a new Justice who doesn't agree with him.

Posted by: Erik M | Jun 28, 2018 1:00:23 PM

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