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Anthony Kennedy's response to the bitter fight over his Supreme Court seat? No comment.

Retired Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy declined to comment Friday on the bitter fight over the nominee to fill his vacant seat during an appearance at an event with high school students in Sacramento.

Kennedy spoke to the students and judges at the federal courthouse during a Constitution Day event Friday in the state's capital, his hometown, but declined to comment on the embattled nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, who was chosen by President Donald Trump to replace him. Kavanaugh, a former Kennedy clerk, has seen his nomination thrown into turmoil after Christine Blasey Ford accused him of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers in high school in the Washington suburbs.

"No, we've decided carefully not to comment," Kennedy said, according to the Sacramento Bee, while touring a library at the courthouse that was named after him.

The crowd of reporters grew throughout the course of the day, the Bee reported, but "Kennedy politely steered questions toward topics such as the state of media in Sacramento, the Sacramento Unity Center championed by Mayor Darrell Steinberg and former television news anchors he watched."

Kennedy also lamented the decline of democracy in countries around the globe, including Venezuela.

"Perhaps we didn't do too good a job teaching the importance of preserving democracy by an enlightened civic discourse," he said, according to the Associated Press. "In the first part of this century we're seeing the death and decline of democracy."

He also spoke about the Constitution.

"The Constitution doesn't belong to a bunch of judges and lawyers," he said, according to the Bee. "It's yours, and since it's yours you have to protect it. And you can't protect what you don't understand."

Kavanaugh, should he be confirmed, is expected to swing the court further to the right. While Kennedy most often voted with the four conservative justices, he occasionally sided with the liberal wing of the court on decisions about universities' use of affirmative action and ruling that gay couples had a constitutional right to marry.

The fight over Kavanaugh's seat is markedly different from Kennedy's nomination by Ronald Reagan in 1987. Kennedy was confirmed 97-0. He retired in July.

Despite Kennedy's reticence, some of the students in attendance were not shy about their opinions of the nomination process so far.

"Nobody's behaving like adults," Maya Steinhart, a 17-year-old high school senior told the Associated Press. "It's absolute chaos and it makes no sense and it's terrifying and it's not working."

 

 

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