Justice Kennedy on the Land of “Decay and Dysfunction”

September 26th, 2014

kennedy-foreign-affiarsAt an event at the National Constitution Center (which does not seem to have been recorded), Justice Kennedy offered these remarks about the state of our civic discourse, commenting on a recent cover of National Affairs Magazine.

Later, Kennedy called out a recent cover of Foreign Affairs that depicts the U.S. Capitol “crumbling” because of “the state of our public discourse.”

“The verdict on freedom is still out,” he declared. “Half the world is the jury and they are out. They are looking to you to see if freedom works.

“This country owes a duty to the Constitution, to itself and to the idea of freedom to conduct a decent, rational, respectful, probing civic discourse—and we don’t have it.”

Without any more context, it’s hard to figure out exactly what Justice Kennedy is saying (what else is new), but he seems to be suggesting that the Constitution  and freedom demands some sort of civic discourse in Congress, and this is something we are sorely lacking.

This harkens back to a post I wrote a few weeks ago, highlighting the diverging views of Justice Scalia–who loves gridlock–and RBG who doesn’t. AMK seems closer to RBG, and this is keeping with his decision to not join Justice Scalia’s dissenting pean to gridlock (which would have turned it into a majority opinion).