Retiring U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy may be known in Washington D.C. “cocktail party” circles as a “centrist” who provided the crucial swing votes that legalized gay marriage and upheld abortion rights.
But, Mayor Rahm Emanuel doesn’t see him that way. Not by a long shot.
To Emanuel — a former congressman who served as an aide to one president and chief-of-staff to another — Kennedy is a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” whose record should not shape the debate about who should succeed him.
“I’ve got to be honest. I don’t understand the whitewashing that’s going on. Everybody is calling him a great moderate,” Emanuel said during a live interview Thursday night on the WTTW-TV show, “Chicago Tonight.”
“This is the person that basically wrote Bush vs. Gore that gave you the Iraq War. This is the person that wrote Citizens United on [political] financing that gave you Sheldon Adelson and everything that he could purchase. This is the person that just gave you the Janus decision, undermining workers’ rights. This is not what a moderate is. This is basically a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
As a champion of gay marriage and a fierce protector of a woman’s right to choose, Emanuel says he appreciates the swing vote that Kennedy provided on those crucial issues.
But, the mayor maintained that Kennedy’s overall 30-year record on the nation’s highest court is not a record to be duplicated. It’s a record to be condemned.
“For everybody going, ‘I’m looking for somebody like a Justice Kennedy’ — no. I’m looking for a justice like Merrick Garland that President Obama offered,” only to have Republicans sit on the nomination, the mayor said.
“I do not buy the Beltway little cocktail talk about what a moderate or centrist [Kennedy was]. He was right on two cultural, very important issues. … [But] I’m not into whitewashing a person’s record that actually ended up being a right-wing record and that ended up being a wolf in sheep’s clothing. And when you look at the consequences of these decisions, he’s upside-down[ed] our democracy.”
Kennedy, 81, announced his retirement this week, effective July 31, setting the stage for President Donald Trump to make his second Supreme Court nomination.
That could solidify the high court’s conservative majority, provided Trump’s nominee can get a hearing and survive, what’s expected to be a bruising confirmation process.
An appointee of former President Ronald Reagan, Kennedy has long bristled at the “swing vote” label.
“The cases swing. I don’t,” he was once quoted as saying.
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