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Justice Kennedy Discusses Same-Sex Marriage Ruling In San Diego

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy speaks at the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference in San Diego, July 15, 2015.
Jean Guerrero
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy speaks at the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference in San Diego, July 15, 2015.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy told an audience in San Diego that last month’s historic same-sex marriage ruling must stand on its own.

He participated in a moderated panel at the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference, an annual event for experts to discuss how to improve the court system. His talk came just days ahead of San Diego’s Pride Parade and Festival.

“The decision has to stand on its own, to see whether or not it’s reasoned,” said Kennedy who acknowledged that the ruling was controversial.

He did not elaborate on the issue, but said justices who voted in favor of same-sex marriage gave “due consideration to strong competing interests.”

Kennedy has become an icon in the gay rights community after authoring the majority opinion on same-sex marriage and casting the deciding vote. His San Diego discussion focused on freedom of speech issues and the impact of the Internet on laws regarding First Amendment rights.

“Speech determines who we are," he said. "It's self-defining and other-defining."

He said the Internet is contributing to increased efficiency and correctness in legal judgments, and that the laws governing freedom of speech must respond to the way the Internet is changing the world and the human brain.

“I think speech law is in its infancy,” Kennedy said.

The talk dipped into the philosophical, with Kennedy musing about his favorite books (everything from Franz Kafka’s "The Trial" to Nicholas Carr’s "The Shallows"), and opining against moral relativism.

“In my view, there are moral absolutes,” Kennedy said.

He listed what he thinks are some of mankind’s greatest inventions, including: the printing press, gunpowder, the Internet and beer.

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