Justice Kennedy’s Conscience

First, the Supreme Court of the U.S.A. sides with pro-life pregnancy centres, removing the requirement that they more or less advertise for abortion right outside their doors, and now Justice Anthony Kennedy, a professed Catholic who has been the ‘liberal’ swing vote in numerous decisions, has without warning announced his resignation, with the Court now evenly divided, leaving President Trump free to appoint, we may hope, a true conservative. The President has said he wants to appoint someone who will overturn Roe vs. Wade. Good news for us and the unborn, bad news for, well, ‘them’. Well, not really bad news, even if they think it such.

In recent controversial split decisions, it was Kennedy who tipped the balance towards moral anarchy, to his discredit:

In 1992, in Casey vs. Planned Parenthood, he sided with the plurality in maintaining and reaffirming the ‘right’ to abortion stemming from the infamous 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision, even though Kennedy maintained he at the same time was hoping to ‘restrict’ abortion to before ‘viability’. Besides the intrinsic moral and biological errors in that stance, he should have realized that it is difficult to contain the right to murder, once the evil genie is out of the legal bottle.

In numerous cases, he has been a proponent of homosexual ‘rights’, which go way beyond the banning of unjust discrimination. In the 2000 case, Boy Scouts of America vs. Dale, he agreed with forcing the once-noble Boy Scouts into accepting openly homosexual scoutmasters, one of the first steps in their demise (the recent law requiring them to accept girls basically vitiates the whole enterprise).

In 2010, in Christian Legal Society vs. Martinez, Kennedy decreed that Christian schools must admit active homosexuals, regardless of their deeply held beliefs (the school’s, that is). And in 2013, in United States vs. Windsor, Kennedy was instrumental in striking down the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which limited marriage across America to a man and a woman (the basis, need we make clear, for every civilization), paving the way for the infamous 2015 Oberfgefell vs. Hodges decision, which declared that same-sex couples must be allowed to marry nationwide, states’ rights be damned (but the dissolution of states’ rights began with Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War, not that honest Abe saw where this was going, and would not have been any proponent of homosexuals marrying).

Kennedy has also been on the ‘liberal’ side (which, to be clear, means expansion of governmental control and the diminution of the freedom and rights of citizens, so is anything but ‘liberal’) of gun control and environmental issues, although he has supported free speech in other areas, such as right to burn the flag. Hmm.

We have to wonder what it is that Justice Kennedy really, deep down in his Irish-Catholic heart of hearts, believes. He was widely ridiculed for declaring, in the midst of opining about the right to murder one’s unborn child in the 1992 Casey case:

At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life…. people have organized intimate relationships and made choices that define their views of themselves and their places in society, in reliance on the availability of abortion in the event that contraception should fail

This is moral-legal vacuity at its most (or least) profound, and Kennedy must (and seems to) believe that there are and must be there some limits to this ‘right to define one’s own concept of existence’, as in, that other people don’t really exist, or are not human, or not human enough, or that two homosexuals should not have the rights and privileges of marriage, and so on.

As Christ warns in today’s Gospel, not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven’.

And as the Second Vatican Council declares:

the mission of the Church is not only to bring the message and grace of Christ to men but also to penetrate and perfect the temporal order with the spirit of the Gospel. In fulfilling this mission of the Church, the Christian laity exercise their apostolate both in the Church and in the world, in both the spiritual and the temporal orders. These orders, although distinct, are so connected in the singular plan of God that He Himself intends to raise up the whole world again in Christ and to make it a new creation, initially on earth and completely on the last day. In both orders the layman, being simultaneously a believer and a citizen, should be continuously (contineneter) led by the same (una) Christian conscience.

Our conscience cannot be bifurcated and divided, for such a path leads to a moral schizophrenia. ‘Personally opposed, but…’ is no excuse for grave crimes against life, and upon that same conscience we will all be judged. If we ever regain sanity in society, and there is a future quasi-Nuremberg trial, philosophers and judges may wonder how we got in the mess we’re in, and Justice Kennedy’s opinions and decisions will provide part of the answer. I know not the state of Anthony Kennedy’s conscience, for that is a dialogue between him and his God, but in any objective sense, with the authority that has been bestowed upon him, the 81 year old has a lot to answer for. We may hope that in the time that remains, he reflects and ponders upon death, judgement and eternity, as must we all, even if we be half or quarter his age. For the days are short, and we must use them well.