Nothing but Freedom

Anthony Kennedy and the Affordable Care Act.

  1. During the past two decades of conservative Supreme Court dominance, Anthony Kennedy has won liberals’ grudging appreciation for the swing votes he provides in close cases involving individual liberties. In his first and perhaps most famous swing, Kennedy cast the crucial fifth vote in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), a case that saved Roe v. Wade from invalidation even as it limited abortion rights. Back then, Kennedy wrote that “at the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” Twenty years later, Kennedy joined the Court’s three most conservative Justices in a dissent that warned that another public health regulation, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), would break liberty’s heart once and for all.

    By declaring the ACA an unlawful encroachment of public power on individual economic choice, the dissenters made clear how little distance separates government coercion of the individual from d...

The complete text of “Nothing but Freedom” is not in the Byliner library, but we love it so much we included an excerpt and a link to the full story on

Originally published in n+1 , November 2012

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