Joyce L. Kennard

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Joyce L. Kennard
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of California
In office
April 5, 1989 – April 5, 2014
Appointed byGeorge Deukmejian
Preceded byJohn Arguelles
Succeeded byLeondra Kruger
Associate Justice of the California Court of Appeal, Second District, Division Five
In office
April 4, 1988 – April 5, 1989
Appointed byGeorge Deukmejian
Judge of the Los Angeles County Superior Court
In office
Judge of the Los Angeles Municipal Court
In office
Personal details
Josephine Luther

(1941-05-06) May 6, 1941 (age 81)
Bandung, West Java,
Dutch East Indies
Bob Kennard
(m. 1976)
EducationPasadena City College (A.A.)
University of Southern California (B.A., M.P.A., J.D.)

Josephine "Joyce" Luther Kennard (born May 6, 1941) is a Dutch-American judge and former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of California. Appointed by Governor George Deukmejian in 1989, she was the longest-serving justice sitting on the Court at the time of her 2014 retirement, 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.

Early years and education[edit]

Kennard was born in the city of Bandung in the Indonesian province of West Java in 1941, when Indonesia was still a Dutch colony. 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.[1] Kennard speaks English with a distinct Dutch accent. During World War II, her father died in a Japanese concentration camp when she was one year old.[2]

Kennard and her mother moved to the Netherlands in 1955.[1] 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.[1] 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.[3] She settled in Los Angeles and found her first U.S. job as a secretary for Occidental Life Insurance.[1] Wilhemine (who was stuck in a menial restaurant job) stayed behind so that her daughter would always have a home, but died of lung cancer in 1968.[1]

Wilhemine's last gift to her daughter was a bequest of $5,000 she had carefully saved up over the years.[1] 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 received an A.A. from Pasadena City College. In 1971, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts with Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude honors in German from the University of Southern California. She continued her studies at USC, where she would go on to graduate in 1974 with both a Master of Public Administration from USC Price School of Public Policy and a Juris Doctor from the USC Gould School of Law.[4]

Legal and judicial career[edit]

In December 1974, Kennard was admitted to the State Bar of California, and from 1975 to 1979 she practiced as a Deputy Attorney General with the California Department of Justice. She then became a Senior Attorney for Associate Justice Edwin F. Beach of the California Court of Appeal, Second District, in Los Angeles.

Kennard's rise within the California courts is often described as "meteoric."[5] Appointed to the Los Angeles Municipal Court in 1986, Kennard was elevated to the Los Angeles County Superior Court in 1987. The next year, she was elevated again to the California Court of Appeal, Second District, Division Five. Finally, in 1989, Governor George Deukmejian appointed her to the California Supreme Court.[6] Upon taking her oath, Kennard became the second woman and the first Asian American to serve as a justice of the Court. In November 1994, she was retained by the voters in the election.

During her time on the bench, Kennard has authored numerous high-profile opinions, the best-known of which is Kasky v. Nike (2002)[7] 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, but ultimately the Court declined to render an opinion, instead letting the California Supreme Court's decision stand.[8] Harvard Professor Laurence Tribe, who had criticized the California Supreme Court's decision, represented Nike.

Kennard had a reputation for aggressive questioning during oral argument.[9] She did not hesitate to ask long and complicated questions—often speaking for minutes at a time before prompting an attorney to respond, and often asked the first question in a given case.[10]

on April 5, 2014, Kennard retired from the court after 25 years of service.[11][12][13]

Personal life[edit]

In 1976, Joyce Kennard married Bob Kennard.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f 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.
  2. ^ Harris, Nancy Smith. "Joyce Luther Kennard". Marin County Women's Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on 2011-07-27. Retrieved 2011-02-01.
  3. ^ "Annual Meeting Special Report". ABA Journal: 129. October 1993. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
  4. ^ "The Honorable Joyce L. Kennard". USC Price School of Public Policy. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
  5. ^ "California Supreme Court". Los Angeles Times. May 15, 2008.
  6. ^ Elias, Thomas D. (July 1, 2014). "Column: Brown can put his stamp on California Supreme Court". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved September 22, 2017.
  7. ^ Kasky v. Nike (2002) 27 Cal. 4th 939. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
  8. ^ "Nike, Inc. v. Kasky, 539 US 654 (2003)". June 26, 2003. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
  9. ^ Nick Roman and Julian Burrell (February 17, 2014). "California Supreme Court Justice Kennard talks adversity, gratitude". Southern California Public Radio.
  10. ^ Kevin R. Johnson (June 30, 2008). "Immigrants Of The Day: Justice Joyce Kennard of Indonesia, James Barrett Reston of Scotland, and Dorothy Jacobs Bellanca of Latvia". Immigration Daily.
  11. ^ Egelko, Bob (February 12, 2014). "Joyce Kennard to retire from California Supreme Court". San Francisco Gate. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
  12. ^ Mintz, Howard (February 11, 2014). "California Supreme Court Justice Joyce Kennard retiring". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
  13. ^ Dolan, Maura (February 11, 2014). "Justice Joyce Kennard to retire from California Supreme Court". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
  14. ^ Kort, Michele (February 7, 1993). "Fairly Unpredictable". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 22, 2022.

Further reading[edit]

  • Speich, Jeremy (July 2002). "Joyce L. Kennard: An Independent Streak on California's Highest Court". Albany Law Rev. 65: 1181–1210. (Lexis-Nexis paid subscription)
  • Hager, Philip (12 March 1989). "L.A. Judge Named to California High Court," Los Angeles Times.
  • Hager, Philip (17 September 1989), "Kennard Seeks Her Own Way on High Court," Los Angeles Times.


External links[edit]

See also[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of California
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Associate Justice of the California Court of Appeal, Second District, Division Five
Succeeded by