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May 5, 2008

Wikipedia: Ted Kennedy

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Ted Kennedy
Ted Kennedy

Senior Senator
from Massachusetts
Assumed office
November 6, 1962
Serving with John Kerry
Preceded by Benjamin A. Smith II

16th United States Senate Majority Whip
In office
January 3, 1969 – January 3, 1971
Preceded by Russell B. Long
Succeeded by Robert Byrd

Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary
In office
January 3, 1979 – January 3, 1981
Preceded by James Eastland
Succeeded by Strom Thurmond

Born February 22, 1932 (1932-02-22) (age 76)
Boston, Massachusetts
Political party Democratic
Spouse 1. Joan Bennett Kennedy (1958-1982, div.)
2. Victoria Reggie Kennedy (from 1992)
Alma mater Harvard University (1956)
University of Virginia School of Law (1959)
Profession politician, lawyer
Net Worth $43-162 million (USD) [1]
Religion Roman Catholic
Website Senator Edward M. Kennedy

Edward Moore “Ted” Kennedy (born February 22, 1932) is the senior United States Senator from Massachusetts and a member of the Democratic Party. In office since November 1962, Kennedy is the second-longest serving member of the Senate, after President pro tempore of the United States Senate Robert Byrd of West Virginia. [2][3] The most prominent living member of the Kennedy family, he is the younger brother of President John F. Kennedy and Senator Robert F. Kennedy, both of whom were assassinated, the former on November 22, 1963, the latter on June 5, 1968. He is also the father of Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy.

Ted Kennedy is a staunch advocate of liberal principles, and is one of the most influential and enduring icons of his party.


Family and youth

Kennedy is the youngest of nine children of Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, a prominent Irish-American family. He attended the Fessenden School, and later Milton Academy and entered Harvard College in 1950, where he resided in Winthrop House. Kennedy was also a member of the Owl Club. He was expelled from Harvard in May 1951 after he was caught cheating during a Spanish examination.[4] Kennedy entered the United States Army for two years and was assigned to the SHAPE headquarters in Paris. He eventually re-entered Harvard, graduating in 1956.[2] In the 1955 Harvard-Yale football game (which Yale won 21-7), Kennedy caught Harvard’s only touchdown pass.[2] In 1958, he attended the Hague Academy of International Law. He earned his law degree from the University of Virginia, where he was the winner of the William Minor Lile Moot Court Competition,[5] and was admitted to the Massachusetts bar in 1959.[2] While he was in law school, he managed his brother John’s 1958 Senate re-election campaign.

His home is in Hyannis, Massachusetts, where he lives with his second wife, Victoria Reggie Kennedy, a Washington lawyer and the daughter of Louisiana judge Edmund Reggie, and her children from a previous marriage, Curran and Caroline. Victoria is president and co-founder of Common Sense about Kids and Guns[6], an advocacy group that seeks to reduce gun deaths and injuries to children in the United States. He has three grown children from his first marriage with Virginia Joan Bennett (married on November 29, 1958, in Bronxville, New York), whom he met while delivering a speech at Manhattanville College: Kara Kennedy (born February 27, 1960), Edward Jr. (born September 26, 1961) and Patrick (born July 14, 1967). Kara married Michael Allen on September 9, 1990 in Centerville, Massachusetts. They have two children: Grace Kennedy Allen (born September 19, 1994 in Washington, D.C.) and Max Greathouse Allen (born December 20, 1996 in Rockville, Maryland). Kennedy has five grandchildren. After his brothers John and Robert were assassinated (in 1963 and 1968 respectively), he took on the role of surrogate father for his brothers’ 13 children.[7]

Senate career

In 1960, John Kennedy was elected President of the United States and vacated his Massachusetts Senate seat. Since Ted would not be eligible to fill his brother’s vacant Senate seat until February 22, 1962, when he would turn thirty, his father therefore persuaded the Massachusetts governor to name a Kennedy family friend Benjamin A. Smith II to fill out John’s term, keeping the seat available for Ted.[8] In 1962, Kennedy was elected to the Senate from Massachusetts in a special election. He was elected to a full six-year term in 1964 and was reelected in 1970, 1976, 1982, 1988, 1994, 2000 and 2006.

Kennedy is the Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. He also serves on the Judiciary Committee, where he is the Chairman of the Immigration Subcommittee, and the Armed Services Committee, where he is the Chairman of the Seapower Subcommittee. He is also a member of the Congressional Joint Economic Committee, a founder of the Congressional Friends of Ireland and a trustee of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

First Senate campaign

First Senate campaign

John, Robert and Ted Kennedy circa 1960

John, Robert and Ted Kennedy circa 1960

In 1963, the year after Ted was first elected to the Senate, his brother, President John F. Kennedy, was assassinated.

In 1964, Kennedy was in a plane crash in which the pilot and one of Kennedy’s aides were killed. He was pulled from the wreckage by fellow senator Birch E. Bayh II (D-Ind.), and spent weeks in a hospital recovering from a severe back injury, a punctured lung, broken ribs and internal bleeding.

In 1968, his last surviving brother, Robert, was assassinated during his bid to be nominated as the Democratic candidate for the presidency. Kennedy delivered a very emotional eulogy at Robert’s funeral. The 1993 book The Last Brother by Joe McGinniss portrayed Kennedy as particularly devastated by the death of Robert, in that Ted was closer to Robert than any other member of the Kennedy family.

After the shock from this event wore off, Kennedy was looked upon as a likely future presidential candidate. For about a year, until the Chappaquiddick incident, the Democratic establishment began to focus attention on him as the new “carrier of the torch” for the Kennedys and the party.

In January 1969, Kennedy defeated Louisiana Senator Russell B. Long to become Senate Majority Whip. He would serve as Whip until January 1971, when he was defeated by Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia.

Chappaquiddick incident

Main article: Chappaquiddick incident

The Chappaquiddick incident refers to the circumstances surrounding the 1969 death of Mary Jo Kopechne, a former staff member in Senator Robert F. Kennedy’s 1968 presidential campaign. Edward Kennedy was driving a car with Kopechne as his passenger when the Senator drove off Dike Bridge into the channel between Chappaquiddick Island and Martha’s Vineyard. The Senator testified that he tried to swim down to reach her seven or eight times, before swimming to safety, leaving Kopechne to drown in the car. Kennedy pled guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and received a suspended sentence of two months in jail in return for an undisclosed amount of cash.

Presidential bid

Kennedy deflected supporters who urged him to run for President in 1972 and 1976 by citing family concerns, in light of the fact of his brothers’ assassinations. He finally threw his hat into the ring for the Democratic nomination in the 1980 presidential election by launching an unusual, insurgent campaign against the sitting president, Jimmy Carter, a member of his own party. Despite much early support, his bid was ultimately unsuccessful. Carter was highly unpopular at the time of Kennedy’s announcement, and Kennedy could have expected to do well against him, but the Iran hostage crisis gave President Carter a large boost in the polls that lasted for several months. The upswing in Carter’s popularity knocked the wind out of Kennedy’s candidacy, which was predicated on dislodging an unpopular president. In addition, the Chappaquiddick incident still dogged the senator, and his opponents often invoked the highly recognizable melody of Simon & Garfunkel’s 1970 hit song “Bridge Over Troubled Water” to remind voters of the tragedy and scandal. Kennedy’s campaign received substantial negative press from what pundits criticized as a rambling response to the question “Why do you want to be President?”[9] Kennedy won 10 presidential primaries against Carter, who won 24. Eventually, he bowed out of the race, but delivered a rousing speech before the 1980 Democratic National Convention in New York City that many consider to be one of his finest moments.[10]

Presidential endorsements

While Kennedy himself did not run, his endorsements for other candidates were commonly viewed as very important. In 1988 he supported the successful bid of Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis to win the nomination[11]. Four years later (1992) he initially backed former fellow Massachusetts Senator Paul Tsongas, who lost to Bill Clinton[12]. In 2000, like nearly all Democratic elected officials, Kennedy supported Vice President Al Gore against former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley[13]. In 2004 he backed fellow Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, who won the nomination but narrowly lost to incumbent George W. Bush[14]. Currently Kennedy is supporting Illinois Senator Barack Obama[15].

Democratic Party influence

Since his presidential bid, Kennedy has become one of the most recognizable and influential members of the party, and is sometimes called a “Democratic icon”.[16] In April 2006, Kennedy was selected by Time as one of “America’s 10 Best Senators”; the magazine noted that he had “amassed a titanic record of legislation affecting the lives of virtually every man, woman and child in the country” and that “by the late 1990s, the liberal icon had become such a prodigious cross-aisle dealer that Republican leaders began pressuring party colleagues not to sponsor bills with him”.[17]

As of 2006, Kennedy is the second-longest serving current senator, trailing only Robert Byrd. Kennedy won an eighth full term (and ninth overall term) in 2006. If he serves out his full six-year term, he will have served in the U.S. Senate for fifty years. Currently, Senator Kennedy is the chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

In 2006, Kennedy released a children’s book My Senator and Me: A Dog’s-Eye View of Washington, D.C.[18] Also in 2006, Kennedy released a political history entitled America Back on Track.[19]

In 2004, Kennedy was involved in the failed presidential bid of his fellow Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, speaking for Kerry multiple times and lending his chief of staff, Mary Beth Cahill, to the Kerry campaign. Kennedy stated that he would have supported Kerry should he have chosen to run for president in 2008. On January 28, 2008, Kennedy endorsed Senator Barack Obama in his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Political record


Although he has been a staunch pro-choice advocate for the past 30 years, Kennedy adopted this position only after Roe v. Wade became law. Prior to that, he held a pro-life position. A letter to a constituent, dated August 3, 1971 opposes “the legalization of abortion on demand” saying, “While the deep concern of a woman bearing an unwanted child merits consideration and sympathy, it is my personal feeling that the legalization of abortion on demand is not in accordance with the value which our civilization places on human life. Wanted or unwanted, I believe that human life, even at its earliest stages, has certain rights which must be recognized – the right to be born, the right to love, the right to grow old.”[20] Kennedy’s reversal on this issue after Roe v. Wade became a source of continuing dispute between him and the Catholic Church, of which he is a member. In 1987, Kennedy delivered an impassioned speech condemning Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork as a “right-wing extremist” and warning that “Robert Bork’s America” would be one marked by back alley abortions and other backward practices. Kennedy’s strong opposition to Bork’s nomination was important to the Senate’s rejection of Bork’s candidacy. In recent years, he has argued that much of the debate over abortion is a false dichotomy. Speaking at the National Press Club in 2005, he remarked, “Surely, we can all agree that abortion should be rare, and that we should do all we can to help women avoid the need to face that decision.”[21] He voted against the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. [3]

Immigration policy

Ted Kennedy was a strong supporter of the 1965 Hart-Celler Act — signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson — which dramatically changed US immigration policy.[22] “The bill will not flood our cities with immigrants. It will not upset the ethnic mix of our society. It will not relax the standards of admission. It will not cause American workers to lose their jobs.”[23] Kennedy is now the chairman of the United States Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship, and remains a strong advocate for immigrants.

This legislation replaced the Immigration Act of 1924, which favored immigrants from northern and western Europe. Proponents of the 1965 bill argued that immigration laws and quotas were discriminatory, and that American immigration policy should accept people not on the basis of their nationality. This also abolished the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.

Kennedy subsequently took a lead role in several other would-be immigration measures, including the Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act (S. 1033) (“McCain-Kennedy”) in 2005 and the Secure Borders, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Reform Act of 2007, a bipartisan measure worked out with President George W. Bush which ultimately failed on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Among other reforms, the 1033 legislation proposed allowing “undocumented immigrants in the U.S. to come out of the shadows, submit to background checks, and register for a legal status. Immigrants and their families would have 6 years to earn permanent residence and ultimately citizenship.” [24]

Gun control

Ted Kennedy has been a staunch supporter of gun control initiatives. In 2006 he was one of the 16 senators who voted against the Vitter Amendment, which prohibited the confiscation of legally-possessed firearms during a disaster.

Energy policy

Ted Kennedy has generally favored alternative energy sources and opposed additional Alaska oil drilling. However, he opposes the Cape Wind wind turbine project.[25][26]

War on Terrorism

With Mikhail Gorbachev

With Mikhail Gorbachev

Although a supporter of the American-led 2001 overthrow of the Taliban government in Afghanistan, Kennedy has been a vocal critic of the American-led 2003 invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq. He has also been a harsh critic of the way the invasion of Iraq was planned and conducted by the Bush administration. Kennedy also has said that the best vote he had ever cast in the Senate was his vote against giving President Bush the authority to use force against Iraq.[27]

On September 27, 2004, Kennedy made a speech on the Senate floor regarding the war in Iraq, just prior to the 2004 U.S. Presidential election.[28]

Wikisource has original text related to this article:
Senator Edward M. Kennedy floor remarks on Iraq

In early 2007, just prior to President Bush’s announcement that he would initiate a troop surge in Iraq, Senator Kennedy made a speech at the National Press Club opposing it.[29] Kennedy was the first Senator in the 110th Congress to propose legislation opposing the President’s troop surge.

No Child Left Behind

Ted Kennedy speaks at the dedication ceremonies of the Connell School of Nursing at Boston College

Ted Kennedy speaks at the dedication ceremonies of the Connell School of Nursing at Boston College

Kennedy was a major player in the bipartisan team that wrote the controversial No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, which, according to both Kennedy and President Bush, was a compromise. He then worked to get it passed in a Republican controlled Congress, despite the opposition of members from both parties.

Northern Ireland

Kennedy has been outspoken in his views about Northern Ireland’s constitutional question. In October 1971, he called for the withdrawal of British troops from Northern Ireland, and for all political participants there to begin talks on creating a United Ireland. [4][5]

In early 2005 however, Kennedy publicly snubbed Gerry Adams by canceling a previously-arranged meeting, citing the Provisional IRA’s “ongoing criminal activity and contempt for the rule of law.” This decision was a direct result of the Northern Bank robbery in December 2004 and the murder of Robert McCartney the following month.[30]

Judicial appointments

A longtime member of Senate Judiciary Committee (and its chairman from 1979 to 1981), Kennedy is an important Democratic voice during debates and confirmation votes on United States Supreme Court nominees. He, with {Daniel Inouye]], elected the same year, has voted on more appointments than every other Senator except Robert Byrd.

Kennedy supported nominations of Abe Fortas and Thurgood Marshall (both by President Lyndon B. Johnson). As of Richard Nixon’s nominees he backed successful nominations of Warren Burger (for Chief Justice), Harry Blackmun and Lewis F. Powell. Like most of Democrats he opposed G. Harrold Carswell and Clement Haynsworth (both rejected). He also voted against confirmation of William H. Rehnquist as Associate Justice, although he was easily confirmed. Kennedy supported Gerald Ford’s nomination of John Paul Stevens, who was confirmed unanimously. As of Ronald Reagan’s appointees he supported Sandra Day O’Connor, Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy (confirmed). Kennedy once again opposed Rehnquist, this time for Chief Justice (Rehnquist was confirmed)[31].

Kennedy was one of the leaders of opposition against nomination of Robert Bork. Within 45 minutes of Bork’s nomination to the Court he took to the Senate floor with a strong condemnation of Bork in a nationally televised speech, declaring, “Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of government.”[32]. Bork nomination was rejected.

Kennedy opposed both George H. W. Bush’s successful nominations – David Souter and Clarence Thomas[33][34][35], and supported Bill Clinton’s Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer[36][37].

Most recently, he strongly opposed nominations of both Chief Justice John G. Roberts[38] and Justice Samuel Alito[39], both nominated by President George W. Bush.

From 2001 to 2003, Kennedy led a forty-five member all Democrat Senate filibuster to block the appointment of former assistant Solicitor General Miguel Estrada to the United States court of appeals. When Estrada withdrew his nomination, Kennedy proclaimed it was a “a victory for the Constitution”.[40]

In 1987, Kennedy made an influential floor speech in the Senate against the nomination of Judge Robert Bork to the Supreme Court (referenced above), warning against Bork’s record on abortion, defendants’ rights, civil rights and more. Bork was ultimately refused confirmation, and Kennedy was credited with leading the Democratic anti-Bork effort. But not all of the anti-Bork Democrats supported Kennedy’s famous speech. Senator Joseph Biden has called Kennedy’s speech “technically accurate but unfair” and said that it “drew lines in ways that were starker than reality.” [6]

Same-sex marriage

Kennedy is one of only five senators who have publicly announced support for same-sex marriage. Kennedy’s home state of Massachusetts is the only state in the United States within which same-sex marriage is legal.

Minimum wage

Kennedy has been a longtime advocate of raising the minimum wage. He helped pass the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007, which incrementally raises the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 over a two year period. The bill also included some controversial tax cuts for small businesses and higher taxes for many $1 million-plus executives. Kennedy was quoted as saying, “Passing this wage hike represents a small, but necessary step to help lift America’s working poor out of the ditches of poverty and onto the road toward economic prosperity.”[41]

Electoral history

2006 United States Senate election, Massachusetts[42]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Edward Kennedy (incumbent) 1,497,304 69.46% -3.15%[43]
Republican Kenneth Chase 658,374 30.54%
Majority 838,930 38.92%
Democratic hold Swing -20.81%

2000 Massachusetts United States Senatorial Election[43]

Ted Kennedy (D) (inc.) 73%
Jack E. Robinson III (R) 13%
Carla Howell (Lib.) 11.9%

1994 Massachusetts United States Senatorial Election

Ted Kennedy (D) (inc.) 58%
Mitt Romney (R) 41%

1988 Massachusetts United States Senatorial Election

Ted Kennedy (D) (inc.) 65.6%
Joseph D. Malone (R) 34.4%

1982 Massachusetts United States Senatorial Election

Ted Kennedy (D) (inc.) 60.8%
Raymond Shamie (R) 38.3%

1976 Massachusetts United States Senatorial Election

Ted Kennedy (D) (inc.) 69.3%
Michael Robertson (R) 29%

1970 Massachusetts United States Senatorial Election

Ted Kennedy (D) (inc.) 61.2%
Josiah A. Spaulding (R) 37%

1964 Massachusetts United States Senatorial Election

Ted Kennedy (D) (inc.) 74.3%
Howard Whitmore, Jr. (R) 25.4%

1962 Massachusetts United States Senatorial Election

Ted Kennedy (D) 55%
George C. Lodge (R) 41%
H. Steuart Hughes (I) 2%
Lawrence Gilfedder (Socialist Labor) 0.2%
Mark R. Shaw (Prohibition) .06%

Further reading

  • Gary Allen (1981). Ted Kennedy: In over his head, Conservative Pr. ISBN 978-0892450206.
  • Nellie Bly. (1996). The Kennedy Men: Three Generations of Sex, Scandal and Secrets. ISBN 1-57566-106-3.
  • Richard E. Burke (1993). The Senator: My Ten Years With Ted Kennedy. St. Martin’s Press. ISBN 0-312-95133-7.
  • Adam Clymer (1999). Edward M. Kennedy: A Biography. Wm. Morrow & Company. ISBN 0-688-14285-0.
  • Leo Damore (1988). Senatorial Privilege: The Chappaquiddick Cover-Up. ISBN 0-89526-564-8.
  • Murray Levin (1966) Kennedy Campaigning: the System and the Style as Practiced By Senator Edward Kennedy (Beacon Press)
  • Murray Levin (1980) Edward Kennedy: The Myth of Leadership. ISBN 0-395292492.
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