Retired Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy had no comment Friday on the fiery fight to fill his seat.
Kennedy spoke to students and judges at the federal courthouse during a Constitution Day event Friday in Sacramento, California. While visiting the state’s capital and his hometown, Kennedy declined to wade into the debate over Judge Brett Kavanaugh, according to published reports.
Kavanaugh is President Donald Trump's choice for Kennedy’s replacement on the Supreme Court.
Kavanaugh’s nomination is in peril over an accusation by esteemed college professor Christine Blasey Ford. She alleges that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers attending high school in the Washington suburbs.
He has adamantly denied the allegations.
What did Kennedy say?
“No, we’ve decided carefully not to comment,” Kennedy told the Sacramento Bee as he toured a library at the courthouse that was named after him.
Kennedy instead "politely steered questions" to the topics of Sacramento news media and "the Sacramento Unity Center championed by Mayor Darrell Steinberg and former television news anchors he watched," according to the Sacramento Bee.
What did he say about the Constitution?
Kennedy did comment on the Constitution.
“The Constitution doesn’t belong to a bunch of judges and lawyers,” he said. “It’s yours, and since it’s yours you have to protect it. And you can’t protect what you don’t understand.”
Kennedy also spoke about the decline of democracy in other nations around the world, the Associated Press reported.
“Perhaps we didn’t do too good a job teaching the importance of preserving democracy by an enlightened civic discourse,” he said. “In the first part of this century we’re seeing the death and decline of democracy.”
If Kavanugh gets the Supreme Court seat, he could tip the nation’s highest court further to the right. Although Kennedy typically sided with conservative justices, he occasionally supported liberal-leaning decisions involving affirmative action at universities and gay marriage.
Kennedy, who retired in July, was nominated by Ronald Regan in 1987 and confirmed
Although Kennedy was quiet about the Kavanaugh controversy, some students in attendance spoke out.
Seventeen-year-old Maya Steinhart, for example, told the Associated Press: “Nobody’s behaving like adults. It’s absolute chaos and it makes no sense and it’s terrifying and it’s not working.”