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Opinion
Noah Feldman

Justice Kennedy’s Legacy Is the Dignity He Bestowed

His record was conservative at heart, even as he upheld abortion and gay rights.

“At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence.”

“At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence.”

Photographer: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who announced his retirement Wednesday after more than 30 years on the bench, will go down in history as a study in internal contrasts.

Appointed by President Ronald Reagan, he wrote several important states-rights decisions over the years, and identified as a conservative — but was better known, and more celebrated, for his generation-defining liberal judgments on gay rights.