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Kennedy was born in Sacramento, California, on July 23, 1936. He went to Harvard University, Stanford University, and the London School of Economics. He was a private lawyer, a professor, and in 1975, he was appointed by Gerald Ford to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In 1988, Ronald Reagan nominated him for the Supreme Court. He became a member of the court on February 18, 1988. He has two sons and a daughter.