A longtime member of the Senate Judiciary Committee (and its chairman from 1979 to 1981), Kennedy was an important Democratic voice during debates and confirmation votes on United States Supreme Court nominees. He and Daniel Inouye, also elected in 1962, have voted on more appointments than every other Senator except Robert Byrd.
Kennedy supported nominations of Abe Fortas and Thurgood Marshall (both by President Lyndon B. Johnson). Of Richard Nixon's nominees, he backed successful nominations of Warren Burger (for Chief Justice), Harry Blackmun and Lewis F. Powell. Like most of Democrats he opposed G. Harrold Carswell and Clement Haynsworth (both rejected). He also voted against confirmation of William H. Rehnquist as Associate Justice, although he was easily confirmed. Kennedy supported Gerald Ford's nomination of John Paul Stevens, who was confirmed unanimously. Of Ronald Reagan's nominees, he supported Sandra Day O'Connor, Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy (confirmed), but was one of the leaders of opposition against the nomination of Robert Bork. Within 45 minutes of Bork's nomination to the Court he took to the Senate floor with a strong condemnation of Bork in a nationally televised speech, declaring, "Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of government.". Bork's nomination was rejected, and Kennedy was credited with leading Democratic opposition. Democratic Senator Joseph Biden, though, said that Kennedy's speech was "technically accurate but unfair” and said that it “drew lines in ways that were starker than reality”. Kennedy also opposed William Rehnquist's successful nomination to become Chief Justice. He opposed both of George H. W. Bush's successful nominations, David Souter and Clarence Thomas, as well, but supported Bill Clinton's nominations of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.
He strongly opposed the successful nominations of both Chief Justice John G. Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, both nominated by President George W. Bush.
From 2001 to 2003, Kennedy led a forty-five member all Democrat Senate filibuster to block the appointment of former assistant Solicitor General Miguel Estrada to the United States court of appeals. When Estrada withdrew his nomination, Kennedy proclaimed it was a "a victory for the Constitution."
Read more about this topic: Political Positions Of Ted Kennedy
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