I never met Senator Edward Kennedy and I can't say much about his personal life, but I can say, with some degree of confidence that he spent his 47 years as a senator fighting for the "more perfect Union" and "promote the general Welfare." that our nation's Founders aspired to, through his active and fierce support for the Voting Rights Act, the Americans With Disabilities Act, the State Children's Health Insurance Program, minimum wage increases, the No Child Left Behind Act, and major gay rights legislation including the Employment Nondiscrimination Act and the Matthew Shepard's Act.
By campaigning and negotiating fiercely for each of these causes, Mr. Kennedy demonstrated his commitment to help all Americans live the American dream. No American, he believed, should go bankrupt saving their lives. No American, he believed, should be fired and deprived of an opportunity to make and provide for themselves based on some immutable characteristic. and No child should be deprived of basic health care because he or she was, through no fault of his or her own, born into a family that could not provide for him.
Conservatives no doubt won't forgive Senator Kennedy for his staunch opposition to Robert Bork's nomination to the Supreme Court. Mr. Kennedy said "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, and schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of government, and the doors of the federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of Americans.”
Mr. Bork's own jurisprudence, had it been upheld by the Supreme Court, would have led to situations just like those cited in Kennedy's speech. For those of us who believe in a more perfect union where equal rights are guaranteed to all, his opposition to Bork bolsters, and does not stain, his claim as a civil rights activist.
Those who knew him will no doubt miss him. We can only hope that his legacy will live on.