SAN DIEGO –— U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy will address a group of lawyers and judges less than a month after authoring a decision that says gay and lesbian Americans have the same right to marry as others.
Kennedy’s appearance at the 9th Circuit Judicial Conference comes shortly after the nation’s highest court put an end to same-sex marriage bans in the 14 states that still maintained them and provided an exclamation point for breathtaking changes in the nation’s social norms in recent years.
Kennedy’s reading of the ruling elicited tears in the courtroom and led to immediate issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples in states that prohibited them. It was his fourth major opinion in support of gay rights since 1996.
Kennedy wrote that the petitioners respected marriage “so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law.”
The 78-year-old appointee of President Ronald Reagan has long been a crucial swing vote on the nine-member curt where four justices are reliable liberals and four others reliably conservative. He usually votes with the conservatives, but he has crossed the partisan divided on certain issues.
Kennedy also joined a 6-3 majority to uphold the nationwide tax subsidies underpinning President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.
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