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The New York Times, MSNBC Highlight Professor David S. Cohen's Scholarship on Justice Kennedy

David S. Cohen

August 08, 2014

An Aug. 4 New York Times article showcased Professor David S. Cohen's scholarship on the disparity between U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy's voting habits when it comes to issues involving women's and gay rights. 

According to the article, Kennedy often holds the decisive swing vote on the court when it comes to issues of women's rights or gay rights. Although Kennedy often decides in support of expanding same-sex couple freedoms, he typically sides with the court's more conservative justices on issues involving women's sexual freedom, Cohen said.  Noting that Kennedy often resorts to gender stereotypes when it comes to women's rights, the Times quoted a passage from Cohen's article in the South Carolina Law Review, where Cohen claimed "Justice Kennedy relies on traditional and paternalistic gender stereotypes about nontraditional fathers, idealized mothers and second-guessing women’s decisions.” Indeed, in an Aug. 8 MSNBC article, Cohen explained that Kennedy's abortion-related rulings, in particular, embody these stereotypical viewpoints towards women.

As MSNBC reported, many are expecting a showdown on abortion rights in the U.S. Supreme Court soon with the ultimate fate of abortion rights likely in Kennedy's hands.  Citing Cohen's article on Kennedy titled "Kennedy's Gendered World," MSNBC turned to Cohen for his opinion on how Kennedy might decide a future case on abortion rights.

"Justice Kennedy doesn’t like abortion, regardless of whether it’s compared to guns or tooth extraction,” Cohen bluntly stated. Kennedy's condescension and disapproval of abortions and women has surfaced in past decisions, Kennedy having upheld every abortion restriction that has come before him in the past, Cohen said, adding that he is skeptical Kennedy will break form in the future.

David S. Cohen’s scholarship explores the intersection of constitutional law and gender, emphasizing sex segregation, masculinity, and violence against abortion providers. He also researches voting anomalies in the Supreme Court.