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'Gay'-marriage fight may hinge on Justice Kennedy

(LOS ANGELES TIMES) — The Supreme Court has nine justices, but if the constitutional fight over same-sex marriage reaches them this year, the decision will probably come down to just one: a California Republican and Reagan-era conservative who has nonetheless written the court’s two leading gay rights opinions.

JusticeAnthony M. Kennedy, 75, often holds the court’s deciding vote on the major issues that divide its liberals and conservatives. More often than not, that vote has swung the court to the right. But on gay rights, Kennedy has been anything but a “culture wars” conservative.

One of his opinions lauded the intimacy between same-sex couples and demanded “respect for their private lives,” provoking Justice Antonin Scalia to accuse him of having “signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda.”

“He is a California establishment Republican with moderately libertarian instincts,” Stanford University law professor Pamela Karlan said of Kennedy. “He travels in circles where he has met and likes lots of gay people.”