Married to Mary Kennedy, and father of 3 children. After earning degrees from Stanford, London School of Economics, and Harvard, he entered into private practice from 1961-1963 (San Francisco) and 1963-1975 (Sacramento). From 1965-1988 he was a Professor of Constitutional Law at McGeorge School of the Law, University of the Pacific.
His ascension to the Court was relatively tumultuous. Reagan's original choice for Lewis Powell's replacement was the odious Robert Bork. When he was unable to get past the confirmation hearings, the next choice was Douglas H. Ginsburg, who withdrew his name after allegations that he had once smoked marijuana. Finally, Kennedy got the job.
Considered a swing vote in a number of cases, but generally on the side of the conservative bloc, voting in the 5-4 majority on Bush v. Gore and in the 2003 minority voting against affirmative action practices on college campuses. He has strayed from predictable territory a number of times. Justice Henry Blackmun's papers revealed that Kennedy nearly voted to overturn Roe v. Wade but changed his mind at the last minute to cobble together a 5-4 majority opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. In July 2003 he wrote a moving majority opinion overturning Bowers v. Hardwick, saying "Bowers was wrong then and is wrong now," and that "its continuance as precedent demeans the lives of homosexual persons."
Due to these decisions, traditional conservative Kennedy, along with Sandra Day O'Connor, is derided by some Republicans as a "liberal", "judicial activist" and a betrayer of the legacy of their beloved hero Ronald Reagan.