On Wednesday June 27, 2018, Justice Kennedy announced  that he will retire from the U.S. Supreme Court.

This has deep and lasting implications for the future of the Supreme Court. Often viewed as the court’s moderate, he was many times the “5” in 5-4 split votes that decided key issues of our times. Regardless of party politics, Justice Kennedy has had an immense influence over the interpretation of the Constitution for three decades.

To be clear, Kennedy was no real friend of everyday Americans. This term alone he voted to gut labor unions, force low-wage workers into terrible arbitration situations, allow governments to access your digital information without a warrant just because you logistically must have a cell phone carrier in order to make a phone call, and to let Trump’s racist travel ban stand.

Yes, he has a played a key role in affirmative action cases and those related to rights and sexual orientation (not just marriage). But the reality is: Kennedy record on anti-corruption issues is terrible — he wrote the opinion in Citizens United that opened the floodgates to big money in politics 8 years ago, saying: “The appearance of influence or access, furthermore, will not cause the electorate to lose faith in our democracy … Ingratiation and access, in any event, are not corruption.”

He couldn’t have been more wrong. And in the last two weeks, he failed to protect the American people in three cases that could have cracked down on gerrymandering. The Court is not siding with the American people, and prospects for change with a new nominee are slim.

I’m not writing this to bring you down. I’m writing to point out that now, more than ever, the fight to make government work for the people truly is on us. You–me–all of us. 

It’s on us to follow in the footsteps of the greatest political movements and lead at the state and local level; in our city councils, county commissions, state legislatures, and through ballot initiatives. It’s on us to grow this movement, to enlist every American, and get them to join this effort that represents our greatest hope to save our precious republic.

Kennedy’s retirement: What does it mean for the anti-corruption movement?

The Supreme Court isn’t the only place where people can fight to fix corruption. There are dozens of anti-corruption campaigns building momentum and led by volunteers all across the country. This year we’re seeing the most active state and local reform map in decades, with campaigns on everything from ending gerrymandering to getting dark money out of elections.

I’ll leave you with these pictures of inspiring RepresentUs volunteers across the country. These are the stories of real people fighting real issues that make a real difference in the lives of everyday Americans. In North Dakota, they just delivered signatures to put an Anti-Corruption Act to a vote in November; in Michigan, they’re fighting a dark money attack on an anti-gerrymandering campaign; and in Maine, they just won Ranked Choice Voting to begin the conversation of voter reform across the country. These, and 8 other states have major reforms on the ballot on Election Day this year.

Kennedy’s retirement brings renewed commitment to community– and the power truly belongs to the people. We believe in an America where the government works for you and your family, not just a handful of billionaires and special interests.


About Ellen Moorhouse
As Grassroots Communications Manager for RepresentUs, Ellen works to amplify the voices and stories of local members and chapters that are building dynamic coalitions across the US, combating corruption in their communities, and fighting for a better world for us all.
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