TIME

IT’S TRUMP’S COURT

The unpredictable Anthony Kennedy’s retirement presages a more conservative era on the Supreme Court
Kennedy, 81, has cast key votes on abortion, free speech, race, gay rights and other issues

FOR YEARS, SOME OF THE MOST CONSEQUENTIAL DISCUSSIONS IN AMERICA WERE HELD AROUND A SMALL ROUND TABLE IN FRONT OF A WINDOW WITH A VIEW ACROSS FIRST STREET TO THE CAPITOL BUILDING. IT WAS THERE, IN THE PIN-DROP SILENCE OF HIS SUPREME COURT CHAMBERS, THAT JUSTICE ANTHONY KENNEDY CONVENED HIS CLERKS EACH YEAR TO ASSIGN AND ANALYZE THE CASES THAT WOULD COME BEFORE AMERICA’S HIGHEST COURT IN THE COMING MONTHS.

It was also where Kennedy would greet guests for private conversation. Courtly to the point of caricature, he would have his staff lay out white linen napkins and a cut-crystal milk jug, then serve tea. He would also salt his legal analysis with Shakespearean allusions, fresh in his mind from after-dinner reading at home with Mary, his wife of 55 years. Alternately self-effacing and grandiloquent, he talked about the books he was reading and what worried him about the law, the country and the world.

And it was there at that table, in the early morning after beating the Washington traffic into the capital, that Kennedy often wrestled with the thorniest issues America faced. Should abortion be legal and easily accessible? How could affirmative action be deployed to right the historic wrong of racism without becoming racist itself? Should gay

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