Joyce L. Kennard
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|Joyce L. Kennard|
|Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of California|
|Nominated by||George Deukmejian|
|Preceded by||John A. Arguelles|
May 6, 1941 |
Bandung, West Java, Indonesia
|Alma mater||USC Gould School of Law (J.D.)
University of Southern California (B.A., M.P.A.)
Joyce Luther Kennard (born May 6, 1941) is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of California. Appointed by Governor George Deukmejian in 1989 she is the longest-serving justice sitting on the Court, having been retained by California's voters three times—first to fill the unexpired term in 1990, followed by second and third consecutive twelve-year terms in 1994 and 2006.
Kennard was born in the city of Bandung in the Indonesian province of West Java. Both of her parents were of mixed Eurasian ancestry. Her father, Johan, was of Dutch, Indonesian and German ancestry, while her mother, Wilhemine, was mostly of Chinese Indonesian ancestry as well as Dutch and Belgian ancestry. Kennard speaks English with a distinct Dutch accent. Her father died in a Japanese concentration camp when she was one year old.
Kennard and her mother moved to the Netherlands in 1955. The rigidity of the Dutch educational system meant that Kennard's hopes of attending university were derailed when she contracted a tumor on her right leg, which resulted in the amputation of part of that limb at age 16. She now walks with the help of a prosthesis.
In 1961, she was able to immigrate to the United States as a result of a special law that authorized 15,000 additional visas for Dutch Indonesian refugees; she settled in Los Angeles and found her first U.S. job as a secretary for Occidental Life Insurance. Wilhemine (who was stuck in a menial restaurant job) stayed behind so that her daughter would always have a home base, but died of lung cancer in 1968.
Wilhemine's last gift to her daughter was a bequest of $5,000 she had carefully saved up over the years. This money, on top of Kennard's own savings (and additional income from continuing to work part-time while in school), enabled Kennard to finally pursue her long-deferred dream of going to college. In 1970, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts magna cum laude in German from the University of Southern California, where she would go on to graduate in 1974 with a Master of Public Administration and a Juris Doctor from the USC Gould School of Law.
Kennard's rise within the California court system is often described as "meteoric." Appointed to the Los Angeles Municipal Court in 1986, Kennard was elevated to the California Superior Court in 1987 and elevated again to the California Court of Appeal in 1988. Finally, in 1989, Governor George Deukmejian appointed her to the California Supreme Court. Upon taking her oath, Kennard became the second woman and the first Asian American to serve as a justice on the Court.
During her time on the bench, Kennard has authored numerous high-profile opinions, the best-known of which is Kasky v. Nike (2002) 27 Cal. 4th 939. In that case, the California Supreme Court held that Nike could not claim a First Amendment "commercial free speech" defense when charged with lying about sweatshop conditions in its overseas manufacturing plants. The U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari, apparently at the urging of Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wanted to reverse. Harvard Professor Laurence Tribe, who had criticized the California Supreme Court's decision, represented Nike. But ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to render an opinion, instead letting the California Supreme Court's decision stand.
Kennard has a reputation for aggressive questioning during oral argument. She does not hesitate to ask long and complicated questions—often speaking for minutes at a time before prompting an attorney to respond. Like her retired counterpart from the Supreme Court of the United States, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Kennard often asks the first question in a given case.
- Kort, Michele (7 February 1993). "Fairly Unpredictable: On the lackluster California Supreme Court, Justice Joyce Kennard stands out. She's a woman, she's Asian, and she's developed an tendency to disagree.". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 12 November 2012.
- Harris, Nancy Smith. "Joyce Luther Kennard". Retrieved 2011-02-01.
- Philip Hager, "L.A. Judge Named to California High Court," L.A Times, 12 March 1989.
- Philip Hager, "Kennard Seeks Her Own Way on High Court," L.A. Times, 17 September 1989.
John A. Arguelles
|Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of California