Supreme Court justice tops list of most influential people

WASHINGTON — Justice Anthony Kennedy of the Supreme Court topped Politico’s list of the 50 most influential thinkers in American politics.

The annual list ranks the most influential ideas in the last year and the people behind them.

When thinking about the changing political landscape, it’s hard to deny that gay rights has been a major political turning point. Kennedy was the deciding vote in the Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage, and has been key in many other decisions since 2003.

Also near the top of the list is the “Black Lives Matter” movement and their founders — activists Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opel Tometi. Coming in at No. 3, the movement took off after George Zimmerman was acquitted in the 2013 death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, and exploded after Michael Brown — who was unarmed — was shot and killed by Ferguson, Missouri police in 2014.

The movement has sparked national debate over race and police relations in America, a debate that continues in elections and on college campuses across the country. The organization now has 26 chapters in the United States, Britain, and Ghana.

Pope Francis, who is visiting Washington, D.C. at the end of September, is ranked fourth. Francis has risen in popularity; he’s led the Catholic Church to modern stances on homosexuality, birth control, economic inequality and climate change. He has declared the Vatican’s support for a Palestinian state and taken in Syria war refugees.

Francis has taken a softer stance on many social issues, instead focusing his tenure on economic injustices around the world.

Here are the top five on the list:

  1. Anthony Kennedy (gay rights)
  2. David Bossie, Charlie Spies (campaign finance)
  3. Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, Opel Tometi (Black Lives Matter)
  4. Pope Francis (Catholic Church)
  5. Bernie Sanders (presidential candidate)

The full list can be found at

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up