Second Interview
29 May 2007
This is the second interview of the Oral History of Judge Henry H. Kennedy, Jr. as part of the
Oral History Project of the Historical Society of the District of Columbia Circuit. The
interviewer is Gene Granof. The interview took place in the chambers of U.S. District Judge
Kennedy in the Federal Courthouse in the District of Columbia on Monday, May 29, 2007,
at 2:00 p.m.
Mr. Granof: Judge Kennedy, I think the last time we talked we had gotten you to the
point where you had been accepted at Princeton and you were preparing to
go. So you started Princeton, when?
Judge Kennedy: I started Princeton on September of 1966. I remember it very, very well
because my parents drove me up in our family car. My parents were very,
very pleased that I had been accepted to Princeton, the caliber of school
that Princeton was. However, it was pretty clear to me that they, like I,
were somewhat intimidated by the very sight of Princeton. Princeton is a
very beautiful place, large buildings built in the collegiate Gothic style.
Many of the buildings look like chapels, very grand chapels. Even the
classrooms. And I remember my father and mother taking me up. We
unloaded the car and, unlike when I had taken my girls to Princeton — you
know they both now attend Princeton — where we stay around, talk, meet
some of the other students’ parents who are dropping them off. Just treat
it as a rather leisurely and enjoyable event. My parents dutifully dropped
me off and then headed back to Washington that same day. Very shortly
after dropping me off. And I remember feeling very much alone. And,
again, just uneasy because the atmosphere of this place was just unlike the
atmosphere that I had ever experienced before. And the very thought that
I would spend more than a few days there — indeed, I was anticipating
spending four years there — really rested on my mind with somewhat of a
burden. It was September 1966.
Mr. Granof: And it was intimidating?
Judge Kennedy: Yes.
Mr. Granof: Now, you were assigned to a dormitory and you had roommates?
Judge Kennedy: I lived my first year in Pine Hall, and I was originally slated to live with
two young men. One, whose name is Rick Webber — who is a partner at
Arent Fox — I still keep in touch with, and we have lunch at least once a
year and we keep up with each other. The other person — whose name I
do remember but I won’t repeat it now — lived with Rick and me for about
three weeks. I found out later that this young man, and probably more
accurately, this young man’s father, was not pleased that his son was
going to live with a Black guy. I was told by Rick many years after we
had graduated from Princeton that while my family was unloading the car
this fellow’s father made a comment. Our procedure was to bring bags
up. There was a walk-up. We were, I think, on the fifth floor. There
were no elevators at the time, so we would walk up these stairs, drop off
our luggage, and then all go back downstairs to the car. Well, apparently
one time when we went back down to the car, according to Rick, this
fellow’s father said in Rick’s presence — Rick was white as was this
fellow that I’m talking about now — he said, “You know, you can change
Mr. Granof: Was he from the South?
Judge Kennedy: No, he was not. That’s very, very interesting. He was from New England.
That’s where he lives now. And sure enough after about, again, after
about three weeks, he moved out for no reason that he told me about. I
can say that during the time that we did live together, we had a perfectly
fine time. But he did move out, and that’s that. The good news is that I
lived with my other roommate, Rick Webber, for three years. And that’s
very unusual. To live with the same person for three years.
Mr. Granof: You obviously got along.
Judge Kennedy: We certainly were comfortable. We were certainly comfortable, and
certainly liked each other, but he came from an entirely different
background than I did. He was from the Midwest. He came from
Minnesota — Minneapolis, Minnesota. He had gone to a very tony prep
school — The Blake School. At least one of his parents was a physician. I
don’t know what his other parent did. But in any event, we got along fine,
and we certainly liked each other and enjoyed each other’s company
enough so that I lived with him my freshman year, all throughout my
sophomore year — second year — and junior year. And would have lived
with him my final year — my senior year — if I hadn’t decided to become a
part of a group that started a community action house. We called it
Community House. There was a young man by the name of Gary
Hoachlander. Now this was the time when community action programs
were all in the news and there was a lot of activism throughout the
country. And Gary Hoachlander was a very energetic guy who wanted to
do something for others that was not limited to work on campus, and he
managed to get a grant from the Ford Foundation to set up a community
action house where we students — and there were about six or seven of us
in this house — rented a house off campus. Ninety-nine percent of
students, if not all students, to that point at Princeton lived on campus.
That’s one of the great things about Princeton because you lived on
campus rather than have to rent places out in the city. But we moved off
campus and we would tutor neighborhood kids. I was in charge of renting
movies. I’d show them. I did that my senior year. And Rick roomed with
someone else his senior year.
Mr. Granof: When you were in college, those years ’66 to ’70, probably in ’66 was
maybe the beginning of activism, because it was sort of getting into the
height of the Viet Nam war. And so they must have been very interesting
times on campus.
Judge Kennedy: It was most interesting times. I try to convey to my daughters — again
who both are at Princeton now — what it was like then. Of course,
Princeton at that time was all male. I remember the day that Martin
Luther King was shot and killed. I remember students, a great number of
students, being just very, very agitated and marching. I actually wasn’t a
part of this march, but I remember that there were those who marched to
the president’s house, which was on campus at the time. And I don’t
know what, frankly, the students were expecting the president to do, but I
remember that classes were suspended for a period of time. This was the
time when the Black Panthers were a group that had found their voice, or
certainly were loud and said some very, very provocative things. And I
remember the Black Panthers coming to the campus, and there was quite a
stir that caused. At the time, at least among the group that I hung with,
there were people who welcomed them on campus, but there were others
who really thought that they should not be on campus. And so there were
these groups listening to this fiery rhetoric by the Black Panthers and I
was there. It was quite something.
One of my most vivid memories was when Muhammad Ali came
to campus. You might recall that Muhammad Ali had become the
heavyweight champion of the world. He was the heavyweight champion
of the world, but he would not answer to the call of the draft. And he was
stripped of his title. And to make money, he would go around the various
college campuses to give talks. He lost a lot of money being stripped of
the title, and this was what he was doing. He was going around, actually,
as I understand it, to make money. And I’ll never forget the time when he
visited the campus. He gave a talk at Whig-Clio Hall — which is a
debating society — and I remember him walking down the steps and I
always just idolized this guy. I remember listening with my father on the
radio when he fought Sonny Liston, the Bear. Sonny Liston was an ex-
convict, and he was just a ferocious figure. And at the time many, many
people thought that Cassius Clay, as he was known then, had really bitten
off more than he could chew.
Mr. Granof: I had forgotten his real name.
Judge Kennedy: Cassius Clay. And I thought that this mean, big, former ex-con was going
to kill him. And I remember one night, sitting by the radio, listening to
the color commentary about the fight. And I remember how there came a
point in time when Liston got knocked down and didn’t get up. And you
know Cassius Clay at the time was very glib. He was entertaining. I just
loved the guy. I just loved him. Then he became a Black Muslim and I
just followed him. But the point is I just idolized this guy. And I
remember seeing him come down these stairs and I ran up to him. And I
said, “Mr. Ali. Mr. Ali, I really am so pleased that you’re here. I’d like to
just shake your hand.” And I put my hand out there for him to shake. His
hand was so large, he basically engulfed my full arm and hand in his. And
he shook my hand, and he was very, very gracious. And I followed him
and his entourage to Alexander Hall, which is where he gave another
speech. And I just loved the speech. It was a very uplifting speech; it was
a speech that talked about Black power and Black pride. And I have to
tell you that there was a line there that I’ll just never forget because there
were many Black people in the audience. We had very few Black students
at the university. Sixteen Black students in my class, and there were
fewer Black students in every class below that.
Mr. Granof: Sixteen out of a class of one thousand?
Judge Kennedy: Eight hundred and twenty five. But there were some Black people from
the town who had come to see this. And I’ll never forget Muhammad Ali
said — well you know, just talked about racism — “And everybody knows
the blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice.” It’s a silly saying, but I must
tell you it drew wild applause from the audience, and I was part of it.
I came down to Washington for the march against the war. A
march right down here at Constitution Avenue. I came down for that.
I’ll never forget the time when the Secretary of Agriculture — his
last name was Hickel, I’m pretty sure it was — came to speak on campus.
And at that time everyone involved in government, there was a lot of
suspicion about them.
Mr. Granof: They were the enemy.
Judge Kennedy: They were the enemy. They were the enemy.
Mr. Granof: Don’t trust anyone over 30?
Judge Kennedy: That’s right. And certainly don’t trust anybody from this administration
that was keeping us in the war. And unlike now, it was very personal to
us because —
Mr. Granof: There was a draft?
Judge Kennedy: There was a draft. So it was a big thing when the Secretary of Agriculture
came, and I’m sure he was talking about environmental things. But in any
event, it was a real controversy on campus because the students who
attended his presentation heckled him. As a matter of fact, I remember the
daily Princetonian headline “Students Heckle Hickel.”
And the university — Robert Goheen — just one of the finest men
to ever walk this earth as far as I’m concerned — was very embarrassed.
Very upset that at this institution where learning is what we’re supposed to
do, that the students had acted irresponsibly.
Well, I tell you that story as a backdrop to the visit of a
controversial figure. George Wallace came to campus. And the
Association of Black Collegians was what we called ourselves. There was
a discussion as to, well, what were we going to do in making it known that
we protested, I think, his presence. But certainly we were protesting what
he stood for, at least what he had stood for. And frankly at that time our
analysis was very nuanced. And I don’t know where George Wallace was
at that stage in his political career as to his thoughts about segregation. At
one time, you know, actually when George Wallace first ran for office, he
ran as a kind of a Liberal and he lost to a person who used racial strife and
segregation against him. And he said, “I’ll never be out-segregationed
again.” And then he became someone, you know, who stood for
segregation. And then, of course, towards the end of his life he changed
back. But, in any event —
Mr. Granof: After he had been shot?
Judge Kennedy: After he had been shot. But, in any event, there was discussion about
what to do. Well, I can tell you one of the memorable times in my college
years was what we decided to do. And it was after some really heated
debates about what to do. The Black students marched into the
auditorium, and we took our seats. We all were dressed very formally.
Ties. Mr. Wallace came in and just before he gave his speech, as one we
all stood and without saying a word — without heckling — walked out.
And I remember the applause that we got from the other students. I mean
it was really — they stood and just applauded what I think was their
appreciation of the way that we had protested. Demonstrating our protest
but also not doing something like just shouting someone down.
Mr. Granof: It does seem like from someone who came to Princeton somewhat
intimidated that you were able in not too long a time to get very involved
in all sorts of things at Princeton. I think you told me that you did play
tennis for a while.
Judge Kennedy: Yes. I played tennis all four years that I was there. But these things that
I’m telling you about now are things that took place in very concentrated
periods of time.
Mr. Granof: I do remember Columbia, the takeover there. And Berkeley, of course,
everybody remembers.
Judge Kennedy: Yes.
Mr. Granof: And even at Harvard, I think, there was a huge fight with the police.
Judge Kennedy: And Cornell.
Mr. Granof: And Cornell where the Black Panthers were involved.
Judge Kennedy: Right.
Mr. Granof: But I don’t recall Princeton having that level of activity.
Judge Kennedy: I don’t think there was. These are things that I tell you about because I
remember them, but I don’t recall that any of these events gained national
attention because the level of activity and the kinds of activity that took
place on Princeton’s campus, when compared to what was happening at
Berkeley, Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, it just was not the same level of
Mr. Granof: Aside from tennis, and I think you said Community House —
Judge Kennedy: It still exists. I’m just as proud as I can be of this project that I helped start
— I was one of the founders. Now, as I said, Gary Hoachlander, he was
the main mover, but the rest of us we had to help him, and had to kind of
consent to living off campus in the community and doing something
different. It’s still going on. Now the house itself, Princeton made the
students come back onto campus. I think that what happened is that
Princeton is very sensitive to the members of the community. And I have
never talked with anyone about this, but I think what happened is that the
university was a little bit uneasy with these kids basically willing to pay a
rent that was higher than the rent that could be afforded by the other
residents, and maybe even driving up the housing prices. I think that
caused a reassessment as to the wisdom of having this house in the
community on Witherspoon Street. It now still exists, but on campus.
And there’s a program called Community House.
Mr. Granof: Could you describe in more detail exactly what its mission was and what
you did?
Judge Kennedy: We wanted to be helpful to the community in ways that we could and
knew about. We would organize outings for kids in the neighborhoods.
We would take them to concerts. I’ll never forget taking about fifteen
kids who had never left the Princeton area up to New York City and other
places. Just outings. The outing to New York City was to see a concert
by some popular group. We wanted to tutor them. We sensed that some
of these kids just were struggling in school, and so we would actually tutor
them in reading and writing and arithmetic.
Mr. Granof: Princeton is a tough area in the sense that it’s very much a university
town, and people want to live there, even those who are not connected to
the university. You know, lawyers, doctors, investment bankers.
Judge Kennedy: I think you’ve hit it right on the head. Princeton is a very interesting town.
Princeton Township is what it’s called. Yes, some very, very wealthy
people, many of whom actually work in New York. I mean Princeton is
kind of a bedroom community commute to New York. You have, of
course, the people who are connected to the university, the professors who
are pretty well off. But again, down Witherspoon Street at the time, there
was this lower-class community. I wouldn’t call it a ghetto. Now
certainly I’ve been to many places that seemed poor, where there was
even more trash, but that’s where we did our thing.
Mr. Granof: And obviously you were motivated to do something very constructive.
Judge Kennedy: Yes. When I went to Princeton I had thought about being a doctor. That
was my ambition.
Mr. Granof: I was going to ask you if when you came to Princeton you had some idea
of what you wanted to do.
Judge Kennedy: When I entered I really had thoughts about being a doctor. I thought,
“What a wonderful thing it would be to be a doctor. Be a person who had
the skills to actually make people feel better when they fell ill.” Well, I
kept that ambition until I took some of the hard science courses. Biology,
it was just too much for me. I just didn’t do well, and I’ll never forget I
felt very, very — talk about intimidated, I sat in the seat that had a little
brass plate on it that said Albert Einstein sat here.
Mr. Granof: That would be intimidating.
Judge Kennedy: And so it dawned on me pretty early on that maybe the hard sciences were
not really where my talents were. I was struggling a bit. I passed all those
courses, but I didn’t do particularly well.
Mr. Granof: Did you go beyond biology?
Judge Kennedy: No. That was it. And then I came to really enjoy economics. I had a
wonderful economics professor — Burton Malkiel was his name — and he
taught the introductory course, Economics 101. He just made the subject
come alive for me, and I became very interested in economics and thought
for a period of time that I would major in economics. I took courses from
Professor Malkiel, Economics 101, which was a course in
macroeconomics, and then I took Economics 102, which is
microeconomics. And then I remember taking a course from Sir W.
Arthur Lewis. Sir W. Arthur Lewis was a Black man — he was actually
born some place in the Caribbean. I think he was one of the very few
Black professors on Princeton’s campus at the time, so he stood out for
that reason alone. But he also stood out because he was just a brilliant
man. He won the Nobel Prize for economics — the economics of underdeveloped countries. And he had been the chancellor for a period of time
at the University of the West Indies. But anyway, I took economics
courses from him, and that kind of got me involved in public policy. And
I decided that I would try to gain admittance to the Woodrow Wilson
School of Public and International Affairs.
Mr. Granof: Now, when did you decide?
Judge Kennedy: By the time I had completed my freshman year at Princeton I knew that I
didn’t want to be a doctor. It was a nice thought, but not something that I
really thought would be a good thing for me. My interests and talents
simply didn’t fit. And so I started hanging out with some friends who
were just more interested in the social sciences — politics, history — and so
I applied to this program. This was one of the only majors at Princeton
that you have to apply to. But I had done well enough to gain admittance
to the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, which
is a kind of an interdisciplinary program where students are expected to
take courses in politics, history, economics, and sociology. And one of
the features of the concentration or the participation in the program at the
Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs was what are
called policy conferences. What they were at the time is students studying
an actual public policy issue and coming up with some answers. My first
semester junior year, there had been a real serious dispute — community
dispute — in Newark, New Jersey, because of an urban renewal program
where the New Jersey College of Medicine and Dentistry was moved from
one place — I’ve forgotten where it was — to Newark, New Jersey, and
plopped right down in the middle of an area of town where some of the
residents just didn’t want it. And in New Jersey, there was a lot of talk
about that. And so the policy conference that I participated in involved
studying the controversy and trying to figure out its causes, how things
could have better been done, how such problems could be avoided in the
future because urban renewal was a big thing at the time. So that’s what I
did. And I really enjoyed that.
Mr. Granof: It appears that you could remain an undergraduate at Princeton, but under
the umbrella of Princeton you had to apply for and participate in the
Woodrow Wilson School.
Judge Kennedy: Right.
Mr. Granof: And when you got your degree it was a Princeton degree?
Judge Kennedy: Oh yes. The Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Policy
is part of Princeton. It’s right there on Princeton’s campus. I don’t know
why it’s so separate actually, but that’s where it is. So yes, I received my
Bachelor of Arts degree from Princeton with — I think this is a certificate.
What would you call this?
Mr. Granof: It seems like a Princeton degree plus.
Judge Kennedy: Yes.
Mr. Granof: In an area of your specialization.
Judge Kennedy: Right.
Mr. Granof: So was it your freshman year or junior or sophomore year that you went to
the Woodrow Wilson School?
Judge Kennedy: You apply after your first semester sophomore year.
Mr. Granof: And you knew based on the courses you had taken, particularly the
economics courses?
Judge Kennedy: For some reason I just gravitated toward the school; it just seemed like
something that I really wanted to do — you know, that would interest me.
I really liked the interdisciplinary approach. I had taken, by that time,
some history courses. Took a history course from a magnificent
professor, James McPherson, who was an authority on the Civil War. The
Civil War era was his specialty of American history. He ended up being
my thesis advisor. There were just so many things about this program that
recommended it.
Mr. Granof: And Professor McPherson clearly stands out. I mean you obviously
developed a close relationship. What was your thesis on?
Judge Kennedy: The title of my thesis was “Black Politics In Indiana from 1888 to 1902.”
At Princeton you had a thesis advisor and I had become — I can’t say
friends with James McPherson — but I certainly came to really like him an
awful lot. I took a couple courses from him, and asked him whether he’d
be my thesis advisor, and he agreed. And so I talked about things that he
might be interested in. I was very interested in Reconstruction and how
amazing it was that there were these former slaves who started occupying
places of power in the South. That ended in about 18 — whenever that
was — and I wanted to study what happened to Black folk who were
interested in politics. I found out that the State of Indiana was a place
where there had been a substantial number of Black people who involved
themselves in politics in both the Republican and Democratic parties.
Now, of course, most Black people were Republicans at the time, of
course this being the party of Lincoln. But for some reason, in Indiana
there were some Black Democrats, and Indiana also was one of the few
states that had newspapers that were owned by Blacks and published by
Blacks. One of the things that Princeton requires is a kind of original
Mr. Granof: How did you find this out about Indiana? Was it through Professor
Judge Kennedy: Just talking about it with Professor McPherson. Yes. And so that’s what I
Mr. Granof: So did you go travel to Indiana for your original research?
Judge Kennedy: No, I never traveled to Indiana. But Princeton has a fabulous library
system. And I knew that because I worked in the interlibrary loan
program. Under this program Princeton could get documents and books
from any library in the world. And so I would actually, through the
interlibrary loan program, get the original papers from libraries in Indiana
and have them shipped to Princeton and I would read them there at
Mr. Granof: Pretty remarkable.
Judge Kennedy: It really was remarkable.
Mr. Granof: I’ve heard Professor McPherson lecture at the Smithsonian.
Judge Kennedy: Oh, Professor McPherson was just a wonderful, wonderful teacher. Just
so knowledgeable. So unpretentious. If you hear him talk and meet him,
you would just not know that he is the world-renowned person that he is.
Yes, I loved Professor McPherson. And there was another professor of
history there whom I came to really like and respect. Took a couple of
courses from him. Martin Duberman is his name. He’s not at Princeton
any longer. I was so disappointed that James McPherson retired second
semester of my daughter’s first year at Princeton. She tried as hard as she
could to get into his course, but it was over-subscribed. And there was
nothing we could do.
Mr. Granof: Did you have to work your way through Princeton? Did you have to have
a job?
Judge Kennedy: Yes. Absolutely. Princeton was — well, from my point of view now —
and I was on the Board of Trustees at Princeton — As a matter of fact, I
served on the Finance Committee, and so I know about the philosophy of
Princeton. And frankly, Princeton is very, very pleased with the amount
of money that it offers students to come. I tell you that so that you can
understand that while I, today, think that Princeton was very generous, my
parents didn’t think so at all. And while I got a scholarship from
Princeton, I also had to take out loans and Princeton had this policy of
having students work. Part of your financial aid package, a typical part of
the financial aid package, was part scholarship — an outright grant — part
loan at a reasonable interest rate, and part income to be derived from the
student working at a job. And so, yes indeed, my first job at Princeton
was working in Commons. Commons was the place where all freshmen
students ate. And I basically bussed — I washed dishes. Very, very
interesting time. I did that my entire first year. And then my first semester
sophomore year I was able to get a job at Chancellor Green. Chancellor
Green was a place on campus that served food, but it was not the main
dining hall. But I was able to get a job there, again washing dishes and
also waiting tables. But then I stumbled upon the best job any student
could ever have. I started working in Firestone Library in the interlibrary
loan program. And I think I started that my second semester sophomore
year. And it’s just the very best thing that any student could do because
you go to the library and, frankly, I would study. And every once in a
while someone would come and you’d have to help him out because he
wanted a book on so and so. And I’d have to do research and find out
where this book was. Maybe it’s in the library in Cambridge or Oxford.
But that didn’t happen very often. So I was paid to come to the library,
work in the interlibrary loan program, and another benefit is that I really
knew exactly how to get papers that I would need for my senior thesis. It
was a great, great experience. Also there were things at Princeton — it’s
kind of perverse, I suppose — but it’s a big thing at Princeton for
upperclassmen to have these, what are called carrels. Carrels are these
little rooms. And when I say little, I’m talking about little. Where there’s
nothing but a desk, a chair, shelves, enclosed, with a door, and they gave
you a key. And when you’re doing your research project you can go into
your little cave at any time. You could leave books there that you needed.
You didn’t have to retrieve books from anyplace. And you could study at
your carrel. Well I got a carrel myself for a year. Because I was there, I
had some friends in high places. I was able to get my carrel. And I
remember being very, very pleased about that. But, yes, I worked. Oh
yes indeed. Every year. Princeton is fabulous though, I’m just telling
you. Just fabulous. It’s terrific in many ways. They also made it easy for
you to make the money that you needed. Frankly, I think any student who
comes up with an idea that has anything to recommend it, Princeton would
pay for it. For instance, my senior year I developed this little program
where I went to and worked at Time Life, Inc. as a reporter and Princeton
paid me to do it. It was part of my kind of work-study program.
Mr. Granof: And what did you do as a reporter?
Judge Kennedy: Not much. But I went there and actually I was assigned by the editors to
do what I could do. I really couldn’t do very much, but I’ll never forget
the Prime Minister of Canada, who I think was Pierre Trudeau, was
reported to have had some type of relationship with a starlet. I think it
was Barbra Streisand. And the editor of the Style section asked me to
look into it and see if I could find out anything about this.
Mr. Granof: What a great assignment.
Judge Kennedy: I remember calling around trying — I didn’t find out anything — but I
mean I would call agents and make inquiries and I started feeling very
impressed with myself.
Mr. Granof: Now, was this in New York?
Judge Kennedy: I would go to New York twice a week and get on the bus and go up to
New York and spend the entire day there and then I’d be told to do things.
And I did them.
Mr. Granof: It does strike me that between original research on your thesis, playing
tennis, and a demanding academic program, and being involved in
Community House, when did you find time to do all this?
Judge Kennedy: Oh, I don’t know. It’s really interesting. To me, at the time, it didn’t
seem like I was doing that much. I suppose that I have always been
blessed with a certain amount of energy. I must say it didn’t strike me
that I was doing anything out of the ordinary. And I just have to tell you
that my classmates — there were people who were just really doing a lot of
things and a lot of things well. And so I just got caught up with them.
Mr. Granof: And what kind of social life? I mean Princeton was then all male and so
you didn’t have women students there.
Judge Kennedy: My wife and I talk about this all the time. I had no social life.
Mr. Granof: But it was very difficult to have a social life?
Judge Kennedy: Yes, that’s one thing I can say. Actually my sophomore year I –I think it
was my freshman year, but we didn’t actually start dating until my
sophomore year — I met a girl from Washington, D.C., who had come up
there to be the date of another fellow. I ended up meeting her. And there
were a couple times that she would come to visit the campus, but I must
say I just had virtually no social life. At the time I didn’t care. I really
knew what I was there for and I always felt just very lucky, privileged to
be at a place like Princeton. It was not easy for me, and so I knew that I
had to study. So I studied a lot, and I did involve myself with tennis. That
was the big chunk of time. Studying and tennis, and then these other
things that we’ve talked about, I would do. So there was really no time
for a social life. I didn’t join an eating club.
Mr. Granof: I was going to ask you about eating clubs. I mean Princeton is known for
that. I don’t remember how many undergraduates, but a percentage of the
undergraduates were involved in eating clubs or joined eating clubs. Did
you have to —
Judge Kennedy: No, you didn’t have to join eating clubs. I would say most of the guys, the
vast majority, joined these eating clubs. There were what are called
alternatives. I ate at Woodrow Wilson College. It is an actual college, but
at the time it was basically a building on campus that had a cafeteria. And
there were some study rooms. And that’s where I ate my meals my junior
year. The first two years people would eat at Commons. Everybody
would eat at Commons. But after your second year, the vast majority of
students at Princeton joined eating clubs. And that’s where they’d take
their meals. But my junior year I ate at this place — we called it Woody
Woo — which is Woodrow Wilson College. And my senior year I ate at
the Community House. That was a most interesting experience because
what we did — six or seven of us — was that each of us would have a day
when we would be responsible for cooking dinner. So once a week I
would be in charge of cooking, preparing, buying the groceries for the
Mr. Granof: Have you kept up your cooking skills?
Judge Kennedy: Actually I was very good, but I must tell you once I got married I stopped.
To my wife’s chagrin.
Mr. Granof: Do you have any bad memories of Princeton? It sounds like you had a
wonderful time there. It seems that both academically and intellectually it
was a wonderful experience for you.
Judge Kennedy: You know, I think we all have a tendency to look back through time
through rose-colored glasses. I don’t know what it is. But at least that’s
what I do. When I think about my life, which has been absolutely
privileged, I have had a wonderful, wonderful life. So, when I look back
through these years I think that the rose-colored glasses just tend to filter
out some of the things which in the big scheme of things really just don’t
mean a whole lot. For example, the fellow who moved out. It’s really
interesting. He comes back to reunions, but we’ve never talked about it.
Mr. Granof: I’m sure he’s embarrassed.
Judge Kennedy: Yes. Well, I don’t know. We’ve never talked about it. But I must tell
you I don’t have many bad memories. I do recall that my entire first year,
even into my second year, I did feel uncomfortable. And it was not a nice
feeling. Nothing bad happened, but I just had the sense that I was very
much in the minority. The kids who were there just seemed to have a
certain confidence. I mean — and it’s hard to articulate what I’m talking
about — because it showed itself in their talk and their demeanor. It was a
certain confidence knowing that they belong. That they’re going to be
somebody. They will be a success. The only question is in what area and
to what extent. I, on the other hand, really did question whether I
belonged. I may have told you before that I’ll never forget that time when
we marched into Alexander Hall, which was one of the main halls, and the
Dean of Students told us about the class and indicated that our class was a
pretty good class. Pretty good class. And then start reeling off the
average SAT scores of verbal and math. And Princeton was pretty crass.
I mean, you know, I’d bet there’re a lot of places that probably wouldn’t
do that. But Princeton did, right there. The average SAT was a little
better on verbal than last year. And I remember that average on an 800
scale at the time, was something like 690-something. The math was even
higher. And I was substantially lower than the average. It was clear that
if traditional criteria had been used, I would not have gotten into
Princeton. It’s just clear even though I had done very, very well. I mean I
was National Honor Society in my high school, President of the Class, and
what have you. But you know, I think there were about 350 presidents of
the class. You know we have 250 presidents of the student council. Oh,
you think you’re good in tennis, well we have about 50 captains of the
tennis team. Not only do we have 50, we have the persons who are ranked
numbers 3, 5, and 7 in the ATs. I’ll never forget this guy who I really
liked because he didn’t seem so confident. He was like me. He just
seemed a little bit uneasy. Well, he was from Europe. He was a concert
cellist. He was a prodigy. So it took me a while.
Mr. Granof: But I don’t think your experience is entirely different —
Judge Kennedy: From a lot, yes.
Mr. Granof: Before your junior year you found, I can do this?
Judge Kennedy: Yes. And I’m going to tell you that was a good feeling. And I can’t say
precisely when it was. I know it wasn’t my freshman year. I think it was
probably toward the end of the sophomore year, I said, “Yes, Yes, I do
belong here. I can do this.” It was a superb feeling.
Mr. Granof: When did you decide that you want to be a lawyer?
Judge Kennedy: I did that toward the end of my junior year — my first part of the senior —
and not before.
Mr. Granof: Did you ever think you wanted to be a history professor?
Judge Kennedy: No. I didn’t think that I wanted to be a history professor or academician.
I always assumed that I wanted to be in the public arena, or in the arena
outside of the academy. I think that in 1968 — ’68, ’69 — I started to hear
about these court cases, civil rights cases. Thurgood Marshall, I had
certainly read about him. I remember my father talking about him when I
would come home from school, from college. And he had mentioned this
guy Thurgood Marshall before, but when you’re out in high school, I
didn’t listen very much. But when I came home and my dad, who was
born in the South in Chamberlain, Louisiana, really felt that he was not
treated well.
Mr. Granof: It was the Jim Crow South.
Judge Kennedy: It was the Jim Crow South. So he was very interested in those who were
doing battle for racial justice. And he let me know that. And one of his
heroes was Thurgood Marshall. And how many times have I heard about
the time when dad — my father — went to a courthouse in South Carolina
when Thurgood Marshall, who was with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund,
came and argued the case that overthrew a white primary. You know, it
was a time when you went after the passage — the Civil Rights Act was
passed in 1965 — I guess it was 1965. Some of the parties in the South
said, “Well, you know, we are private parties. And, therefore, we don’t
have to permit Blacks to vote in our primary elections.” Well, Thurgood
Marshall came and argued that case. And dad was there, and dad talked
about this. He said, “Good-looking man.” First of all, he was impressed
with the fact that he was just a good-looking, big man. He talked about
his voice. And he talked about just how proud he was. How proud he was
that this Black lawyer came into that courtroom and argued the case and
won it. I think it’s a combination of things. Hearing my dad, reading in
the newspaper about the advances that Black folk were making —
Mr. Granof: Well it was a huge time. It was the Warren Court.
Judge Kennedy: Warren Court. Yes.
Mr. Granof: So you must have made the decision to become a lawyer after both Robert
Kennedy and Martin Luther King were assassinated.
Judge Kennedy: Yes. I started getting interested in law and decided I would apply to law
Mr. Granof: Did you talk it over with anybody? Did you have an advisor in the
Princeton faculty who said —
Judge Kennedy: No. You know it’s really interesting. No I didn’t. I just decided that this
was what I was going to do and I didn’t talk to anybody about it. I just did
it. I talked to my parents about it. Both my mother and father were just
wonderful, wonderful parents because they were the kind that said if you
can do it, do it. And that was that. They were not the kind of parents that
needed, or even wanted, to talk at great length about your goals and
ambitions. My father, in particular, conveyed that he just knew that I was
going to be a person of some influence and somebody. And it was just no
question about that. And so, you know what’s expected of you, so go
ahead on and do it and, you know, I’ll leave it to you —
Mr. Granof: But not a top tennis pro.
Judge Kennedy: That’s right. And he was very, very realistic. But even after winning that
very important match — big match — he had the good sense to say, “No,
not in this arena.”
Mr. Granof: I said that more as a joke because it sounds like in a subtle way he knew
where your strengths were and encouraged you in that direction.
Judge Kennedy: Yes.
Mr. Granof: So, you decide to go to law school, and the question is where?
Judge Kennedy: Well, see that’s one of the great things about going to a place like
Princeton where people think pretty well of themselves. And so I just
naturally decided that I would apply to some of the top, elite law schools.
And I applied to Harvard, Yale, George Washington University —
Mr. Granof: Columbia?
Judge Kennedy: Columbia. I don’t know if I applied. I remember those. I might have
applied somewhere else; I think maybe the University of Michigan, but
I’m not certain.
Mr. Granof: All of them top-tier law schools.
Judge Kennedy: All of them top law schools, and I got into Harvard, and went. And —
Mr. Granof: That was an easy choice, I assume, if you’re going to get into Harvard —
Judge Kennedy: Well, yes. I didn’t get into Yale. I was wait-listed at Yale.
Mr. Granof: Which was a much smaller class.
Judge Kennedy: Yes. Yale, still, right now is very small. Harvard was a large class, about
500. Actually, the choice was between Harvard and Columbia. I did
consider Columbia for a period of time. But I visited Columbia, I visited
Harvard, and I chose Harvard.
Mr. Granof: Now, did you ever think, How am I going to afford this?
Judge Kennedy: Harvard gave me the same deal that Princeton did. I got some scholarship
and some loans. Now I didn’t work when I was at Harvard though. But I
must say, and I’m very, very sensitive to this now with my own daughter
who is going to Harvard, because I’m going to pay for her to go to
Harvard. When I came out of Harvard I had the loans. I had the loans.
I’ll never forget every month tearing off that coupon and mailing in my
payment. But that’s what I did. Took out loans and worked during the
summers, and —
Mr. Granof: You must really be proud of both your daughters and especially your
oldest daughter who’s going to start law school in the fall.
Judge Kennedy: That’s right. I’m very, very pleased with her. And I’ll just have to tell
you this. Whereas I went to Princeton and I did okay at Princeton, but I
didn’t graduate with any honors. I think I was really in the middle of the
pack. My daughter — I don’t know what her grade point average is — but
the entire time she was at Princeton, her lowest grade was a B plus. And
she got one B plus. Every other grade was an A. Every other grade
except for this one B plus, and she is mad as a wet hen.
Mr. Granof: About the B plus?
Judge Kennedy: Yes. And I’ll never forget that I got, maybe, a couple of B pluses and I
was glad. What amounted to B plus, it was a different grading scale then.
Mr. Granof: So your daughter must be terrific.
Judge Kennedy: She really is. I’m just very proud of her. She’s just a very disciplined,
focused young woman. As a matter of fact, I wish that she would kind of
open up a bit, rather than being so focused.
Mr. Granof: But she’s going to law school directly from college?
Judge Kennedy: Yes. I recommended against it. I said, “Morgan, you know there’s all
kinds of fellowships and postgraduate programs. Some take you
overseas.” You know my brother was a Rhodes Scholar. It was a
wonderful experience. But she just said, “I want to go to law school. I’m
going to law school.”
Mr. Granof: Well, if she knows her mind, and after law school she may make other
Judge Kennedy: I don’t know. Maybe so, but I think it’s the unusual person who, after law
school, does anything but get on the law track and stay there. I think once
you invest all this time and money, you tend to just stay on that track. I
think that’s the norm. And that’s fine.
Mr. Granof: So you’re accepted at Harvard and you’ve got a financial aid package.
Mr. Granof: When you got there, was the first year pretty prescribed?
Judge Kennedy: Oh yes. It was absolutely prescribed. Everyone took the same courses.
Mr. Granof: Contracts? Criminal Law?
Judge Kennedy: Torts, Contracts, Criminal Law, Civil Procedure. And it seems to me that
there’s a fifth one.
Mr. Granof: Property?
Judge Kennedy: Property. And I tell you as enjoyable a time as I’ve had several years of
my life, my first year at Harvard Law School, if not the best, certainly
rivals the best on a day-to-day basis because my first year I roomed with
my very best friend from college. I made mention of the fact that I have
just had this charmed life, and I have. One of the things that makes it
charmed is because I just so happened, during high school, to become
friends with some guys — my two best friends were just so much fun, so
smart, so ambitious. And our friendship just goes on and on and on. I had
dinner last night with one of my high school friends. Let me kind of put
this in perspective. I went to a public school, and I had two real good
friends. Actually, only one went to the same high school that I went to.
His name was Robert O’Meally. Just a smart guy. And the other guy was
Ernest Wilson. Ernie went to the Capital Page School that’s of some
notoriety now because of Congressman Foley’s —
Mr. Granof: Folly?
Judge Kennedy: Yes. But we were these guys living in what I would say was our middleclass neighborhood, kind of solidly middle class. And for whatever
reason we all were pretty ambitious. I’ll never forget the day that we all
received our acceptances into college, and all of us got into the places we
wanted. I think every place we applied, we got in. And then you know
what was happening is people like Bob Goheen, who was the president of
Princeton, and the other universities were coming to the realization that
there really was a moral imperative that these universities open up their
doors to more Black students. And so I think they were really looking for
us, to tell you the truth. And so we all got our acceptances, and I’ll never
forget we got into our car, we just met at Ernest Wilson’s house and we
were just ecstatic about all the places that we had applied to and gotten
into. And as it turns out, Chico went to Harvard — Chico, Ernest Wilson
— Chico, that’s his nickname. And my other good friend, Bob O’Meally,
went to Stanford. Well, Bobby applied to and got into a PhD program in
literature at Harvard, and I was going to the law school at Harvard. And
we decided to room together. So Bobby and I roomed together at Harvard
that first year, and we just had such a good time. I think we just felt good
that we were both at this place. I mean this place at the same time. It
wasn’t lost on us that, again, this is pretty big stuff being up here at
Harvard. We talked to each other about our disciplines that we were
interested in. And I would talk with him about literature. He would talk
with me about law. We would have these discussions about the use of
language. He’s now a tenured professor of literature at Columbia
University, and he’s a well-known professor of literature. But, you know,
whether or not it’s proper to use a participle always in a certain language,
“the plaintiff did such and thus,” or is “plaintiff did such and such”
sufficient. The spelling of “judgment.” You know you guys all spell
judgment j-u-d-g-m-e-n-t. Now really, the better phrase is judgement,
j-u-d-g-e-m-e-n-t. “No it’s not.” “I’ll talk to my law professor about
that.” “Well, I’ll talk to –” He became very interested in the logic of the
law. And I became very interested in the people he was studying. And so
we would just spend time together.

Mr. Granof: Where did you guys live?
Judge Kennedy: We lived in Perkins Hall, which is a graduate student dorm. As a matter
of fact, I had to get special permission. It was not a law school dorm. But
it was very near the law school. As a matter fact, it was on the same plot
as the law school, but it wasn’t a law school dorm.
Mr. Granof: Now, it doesn’t seem like you were intimidated at all during your first
year. Maybe it’s because you spent time with people who were not in the
law school.
Judge Kennedy: I was not. I must tell you. I felt a comfort level at my first year at
Harvard that was much better than my first year at Princeton. I think
truly, truly that having gone through that first two years at Princeton
where I just was wondering, Do I belong?, and finally coming to the
realization that I did belong. Harvard is no cup of tea. I don’t know who
you had as a professor, but I had Charles Dawson for Contracts. You
know these guys Leach, Dawson, Byse, Casner. These were giants and
just brilliant people and they had expectations. But for whatever reason I
just was not intimidated and had a great time.
Mr. Granof: Did you have Byse for Contracts or did you have Dawson for Contracts?
Judge Kennedy: No, I had Dawson for Contracts. I had Abram Chayes for Civil
Procedure. I’ll never forget him. He was a wonderful man. He taught
Civil Procedure, but what he really became famous for is International
Law. But I had Dawson for Contracts, Chayes for Civil Procedure,
Weinreb — Lloyd Weinreb for Criminal Law, Jaffe for Torts, and what’s
the other one? Property. Oh, I had a person whom I really came to not
like at all, Lance Liebman, who became the Dean of Columbia University
Law School. Is he still the head of the American Law Institute? At one
time he was the head of the American Law Institute. Professor Liebman,
first of all he was young and inexperienced. Obviously a very, very bright
fellow, but I just remember his was one of the only times in a class where
I felt that the use of the Socratic method in which you would state
something, you would address an issue or problem, and then the professor
would point out another way of addressing the problem or thinking about
it — I remember an occasion where I really felt put down. Very much put
down by him, and feeling that he had displayed, perhaps deservedly, I
don’t know — but I don’t think that any professor should ever make a
student who is at least trying feel like the student’s answer was just stupid
and not worthy of much consideration by anyone. And I remember there
was a time in that class where I was made to feel that way. You know we
were just talking about looking back through time and having your rosecolored glasses filter out some of the bad times. My rose-colored glasses
to this day haven’t filtered that out. But I must say I felt that the
professors whom I had at Harvard were uniformly just very, very good.
Very, very good. Perhaps my favorite professor, however, amongst this
group was Archibald Cox, from whom I took Constitutional Law.
Professor Cox was good for any number of reasons. One, he spoke with
such authority and was so knowledgeable about Constitutional Law. He
was also interesting. He was very upright —
Mr. Granof: Very New England.
Judge Kennedy: Very, very New England. He wore this bow tie. I’m from the South and
so southerners — a lot of southerners — talk slow, and I think I talk slow.
Well, he was from the North, but the pace of his speech was, I found, very
nice. He had a very deliberate cadence to his speech. I’ll never forget the
time when Archibald Cox was teaching about the Bill of Rights. What’s
the Bill of Rights? And I and a couple of other people really had not
wrapped our minds around the proposition that, what the Bill of Rights is,
is this country’s attempt to shield citizens from the power of the
Government. It says there are some things the Government just can’t do.
Freedom of speech. You know, you’re going to be able to speak your
mind. You’re going to be able to be free from unreasonable searches and
seizures. And now this is the first semester’s sophomore year, and I don’t
know what it was but I was getting confused about the difference between
Constitutional Law and Tort Law. Which, of course, you know, tort law
governs interactions between people, not government. And there came a
point in time when I revealed this ignorance about the two kinds of laws.
And he said, “Oh, well let me just tell you.” And since civil rights again
was in the forefront of the news, he said, “Now the Constitution may
prohibit discrimination on the basis of race. Under the Fourteenth
Amendment, the Government cannot display racial animus,” so on, so
forth. “However, as a private person I have a party” — and there are two
Black kids in the class, me and a guy named Bob Malson — “and if I did
not want to invite you, Mr. Kennedy, to my party because you are Black, I
could do that. And there’s no constitutional violation. There’s nothing
unconstitutional about this.” And he said this to make the point. And then
it was clear that the words rang in his ear. “But of course I would never
have a party and invite students and not invite you and Mr. Malson.” He
actually said this. I mean this man was so pure; I mean he wanted to do
the right thing and say the right thing so much. And so I was touched, I
was absolutely touched by this display of a man wanting to do his job,
really wanting to teach me the difference, to clear up my confusion, and
doing so in a way that I could understand because it was a race matter.
Unfortunately, that can cause such controversy even now. But then really
being sensitive to how I might feel. So it was a great course. I think I
really, really came to understand and know constitutional law because of
his teaching.
And it turned out we had the same pattern to our day. We both —
Archibald Cox and I — would wake up very, very early in the morning and
go to the cafeteria. And, as it turns out, I ended up the one semester at
least three times a week having breakfast with him. And we would just sit
there and talk. And I just, even then, knew that that was special. To have
a conversation with this wonderful, wonderful teacher. We talked about
all kinds of things. I asked him about — he put ketchup on his eggs, every
morning. It looked awful. And so we talked about his taste in food, and
what have you, and I must say I was very, very pleased when my brother
bought me his biography and he signed it, and he said some very, very
nice things. He remembered me and said so in the book.
Mr. Granof: Who else did you have at Harvard that you thought —
Judge Kennedy: There were so many. I must say my thinking about Professor Cox, for the
reasons I’ve indicated, was very, very special. I didn’t have the same type
of relationship, contact, with anyone else. I remember talking with Abram
Chayes about various class assignments, and I was very, very impressed
with him. And I thought that he was a very good teacher. Lloyd Weinreb,
who taught me Criminal Law, I got to know a little bit and really liked. I
remember Vern Countryman. Vern Countryman taught Secured
Transactions, and that was a tough, tough course. And he was a tough,
tough cookie. And I remember that course very well.
Mr. Granof: Did you find that law school changed the way you thought about things?
Judge Kennedy: Yes, indeed. I think that a law school, Harvard Law in my case, did bring
about first of all a respect for the rule of law and an appreciation of the
different ways to look at things. And also an appreciation for the
importance of the use of language. Because, I mean, that’s how human
beings communicate. That’s how we should communicate.
Unfortunately, sometimes we communicate using fisticuffs, but we’re
supposed to communicate by the use of language. And I think that
Harvard really did a good job in instilling an appreciation for all the things
that I’ve just mentioned, including, again, the use of language. Really
understanding the importance of the meaning of words. Appreciating that
the English language, in particular, is a very — what should I say —
profound language. Words can be used in different ways. Nuances in
words. Certainly in the structure of a sentence, depending upon where
you put a comma, can change things. And I came to appreciate that and
really enjoy it. I must say I came to really enjoy the law. And still do.
Mr. Granof: Did you find time to engage in other activities?
Judge Kennedy: No, I did not. At law school I only studied. However, I had much more of
a social life. I did much more socializing in law school than I did in
college, which is generally the other way around. I went to parties with
my good friend Bobby O’Meally, and that first year we would, every
weekend, do something social. We had never been to Canada before, so
we jumped in a Volkswagen Beetle and drove to Canada, drove to
Montreal. Didn’t have anyplace to stay. Well, of course, we didn’t even
think about it. Slept on the grounds of McGill University.
Mr. Granof: When did you meet your wife? Was this after law school?
Judge Kennedy: Oh, I met my wife after law school. But it’s very interesting that you
should raise that issue because I could have met her my sophomore year at
Princeton because she went to Goucher College. And Princeton, during
those years, had a tradition of having a week where girls from colleges on
the East Coast would come to Princeton for a week. She was one of those
girls who came to Princeton, was there for a week. As a matter of fact,
went out a couple of times with a guy that I know. But, as I told you, I
wasn’t about anything other than studying and playing tennis at the time,
and so I didn’t meet her or anybody else that was there. I just didn’t
participate in any of those activities that involved the girls. And I met her
— we’ve been married 26 years; it’ll be 27 years in September — but I met
her after I came back to Washington and when I was an Assistant U.S.
Mr. Granof: But it appears that you had a wonderful social life at law school.
Judge Kennedy: Oh, I did indeed. I did indeed. There were a couple of ladies that I dated
up there. I had a very full life.
Mr. Granof: Did you decide that you were going to go back to Washington to practice
Judge Kennedy: No. Those kinds of things, you know, they just kind of happen. So many
of my friends wanted to work on Wall Street. They wanted to work for
some of the silk-stocking law firms on Wall Street — Cravath, Swain &
Moore; Sullivan & Cromwell. There were about 6 or 7 of them. And I
was no different. I remember — I guess this was during my second year —
representatives of these law firms would come up to campus, they would
stay at the Hotel Sheraton Commander. And you’d go there and interview
to try to get a spot on Wall Street. And that’s what many of my
classmates did, and that’s what I did. And I ended up actually getting an
offer from Patterson & Belknap.
Mr. Granof: Yes, I remember that firm.
Judge Kennedy: Yes. At One Wall Street. I remember being very impressed with the
address. I almost worked there. I was interviewed up in Cambridge, then
they invited me to come down to New York for an interview. And I went
down, and I’m telling you, what I was hearing didn’t sound all that great
to me. They were talking about just how hard their lawyers worked. And
mind you, I didn’t mind working hard, but it just didn’t strike me as
something that I really wanted to do. Perhaps that day New York City was
all cloudy. And you know how New York City is. I mean as far as I’m
concerned, New York City has to be one of the most, if not the most,
vibrant cities in the world. But I’d walk down some streets and they were
just crowded, and the buildings were close. And you’d look up and you
saw a little part of the sky. So I did get an offer from Patterson & Belknap
and I think a couple of other Wall Street firms, but was very glad that I got
some offers from firms down here. And I ended up going to Jones, Day,
Reavis & Pogue. When I worked at Jones Day, which was paying the
standard salary, I remember thinking that the amount of money that they
were paying me, $300 a week, was all the money in the world. I mean
that money was, wow. And I was so impressed. I worked between my
second and third year at Jones Day here in Washington, D.C.
In my third year at Harvard I participated in a clinical program. It
was the Harvard Voluntary Defenders Program. I had really enjoyed that.
I liked the courtroom work, and I came under the influence of a fellow
named John Stein — he used to be a member of the Bar here — who was in
the U.S. Attorney’s Office. And John Stein, whom I would play tennis
with, let me know that he could not imagine a better job than being an
Assistant U.S. Attorney. And so he talked to me about the U.S.
Attorney’s Office, and I ended up applying to the U.S. Attorney’s Office
in my third year, getting the job, and that’s how I became an Assistant
U.S. Attorney right out of law school.
Mr. Granof: Oh, you got the job right out of law school?
Judge Kennedy: Right out of law school. That doesn’t happen anymore these days. But
that’s right, I graduated in June of 1973. I didn’t go back to the
graduation ceremonies, by the way. Actually I had planned to go back for
graduation ceremonies. But I came down here to Washington to register
for the Bar exam, and I ran into some people who told me about the pass
rate here in the District of Columbia. A couple of guys said, “We know
some people from Harvard and Yale who didn’t study and flunked it.”
That was not in the cards for me. So I came down here and I started
immediately studying for the Bar exam. Well you couldn’t start in the
U.S. Attorney’s Office until you had passed the Bar. And so that was
another reason I had to pass the Bar. I took the Bar — I think it was in
July, but didn’t get the results back until late November. I was sworn into
the Bar on December 7, 1973, and I was sworn in as an Assistant U.S.
Attorney the same day, December 7, 1973.
Mr. Granof: So you worked at Jones Day just during the summer?
Judge Kennedy: Well, just during the summer, and then they did something that I was just
so appreciative of. They had made me an offer to come back, but I turned
them down. Then I took the Bar exam but couldn’t start working as an
Assistant U.S. Attorney until I had passed it. And you didn’t know when
the results were going to come out. And so I went back and talked with
Eldon “Took” Crowell. At the time I worked at Jones Day, he was a
partner there, but later left to establish Crowell & Moring. Even though I
had turned Jones Day down, I needed some place to work while waiting
for the Bar exam results. Jones Day let me work there, and I did so from
July 15 — the day after I took the Bar exam — until December 6, 1973.
And so I have about five months where I was associated with Jones, Day,
Reavis & Pogue.
Mr. Granof: You really are extraordinarily fortunate. At least to become an Assistant
U.S. Attorney.
Judge Kennedy: My brother and I talk all the time about this. Why we have certain
attitudes. And I don’t know why it should come as any surprise, but I
think that the way I look at the world is influenced by the fact that I have
been very privileged, very lucky. I’ve had people come into my life
who’ve been such wonderful influences, and that’s the way it is.
Mr. Granof: But, you know, it’s true. You have been fortunate. But also fortune
smiles on those who make their own breaks. The breaks wouldn’t have
come your way if there hadn’t been a basis for them to be there.
Judge Kennedy: Yes, I don’t mean to be falsely modest. I put in the time and the effort.
Mr. Granof: This is probably a good place to stop.
[This concludes Interview No. 2]