McGeorge’s leading legal voices speak to Pacific community

Judges Kennedy and Hardesty

On Nov. 18, 2020, University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law Dean Michael Hunter Schwartz had the honor of interviewing retired Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court Anthony M. Kennedy and Justice of the Nevada State Supreme Court James Hardesty, JD ’75, as part of Pacific’s Leading Voices speaker series. The Justices discussed their paths to their respective seats in the judiciary; how McGeorge aided their journeys; their advice to students, alumni, and faculty interested in becoming members of the judiciary; the qualities that make a good Justice; and answered questions from students and alumni.

Dean Hunter Schwartz opened the discussion with stories of his early encounters with the Justices. He noted Justice Hardesty’s humility and recalled one of the first times he saw Justice Kennedy, the longest serving member of McGeorge’s faculty, in the classroom.

“I was watching Justice Kennedy teach in Salzburg,” said Hunter Schwartz, “and in true law professor fashion, he spun a hypothetical and then asked a student how she would argue it. After she gave her argument, Justice Kennedy said, ‘That’s not how I would’ve argued it’ and following a sufficiently dramatic pause, Kennedy finished, ‘It’s better.”

Later in the conversation, in response to Justice Kennedy mentioning that he always wanted to be a trial judge, Justice Hardesty, who was one of Justice Kennedy’s students, said, “The best job in the legal world for me was being a trial judge. It was an extraordinary experience. It is the laboratory of the law.

Justice Kennedy also stressed the importance of collegiality, remembering, “I would read an opinion from Justice Brennan and I’d tell him ‘I have to write to a dissent, you are misciting the case law. Oh, and remember, you, Marjorie, Mary, and me are all going out to dinner tonight. That was the way we worked.”

The online event was attended by hundreds of current students, alumni, staff and faculty members. In addition to the memorable insights and stories that both Justices shared, Justice Kennedy also shared, to the enjoyment of everyone attending, his impersonation of President Ronald Reagan.