The son of former U.S. Representative Joseph P. Kennedy II, Joseph Patrick Kennedy III was born on October 4, 1980 in Brighton, Massachusetts. After earning a bachelor's degree in Management Science and Engineering from Stanford University in 2003, he served in the Peace Corps from 2004-06. In 2006 he co-chaired the re-election campaign of his great-uncle, U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy. While subsequently pursuing a JD at Harvard Law School, the younger Kennedy worked for the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, was a technical editor for the Harvard Human Rights Journal, and co-founded “Picture This: Justice and Power,” an after-school youth program based in Boston's Jamaica Plain neighborhood.
Upon completing his legal studies at Harvard in 2009, Kennedy served briefly as an Assistant District Attorney (ADA) in Hyannis, Massachusetts, and then as an ADA in Middlesex County during 2011-12. In November 2012, the voters of Massachusetts' 4th Congressional District elected Kennedy, a lifelong Democrat, to the United States House of Representatives, where he succeeded Rep. Barney Frank and promptly became a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
Maintaining that all women should have unrestricted access to taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand, Kennedy has voted: against a proposal to deny federal funding to abortion providers; against legislation banning abortions on any fetus older than 20 weeks—unless the pregnancy endangered the mother's life or was the result of rape or incest; and against a bill requiring healthcare practitioners to do everything in their power to save the life of any infant that happens to survive an attempted abortion procedure.
Arguing that illegal immigrants who currently reside in the U.S. should be offered a pathway-to-citizenship, Kennedy believes that efforts to restrict immigration to America are fundamentally racist because they tend to disproportionately prevent nonwhites from entering the country. In 2015 he voted against a bill which called for the cessation of federal funding to any state or local governments that willfully shielded illegal aliens from federal immigration authorities.
On the premise that the greenhouse gas emissions associated with human industrial activity are a major cause of potentially catastrophic global warming, Kennedy in June 2015 lauded Pope Francis's newly released encyclical on climate change as “a global call for action” that “eloquently makes the case that … inaction saves its most tragic consequences for the poorest among us.” In order to counteract the deleterious environmental effects of fossil-fuel combustion, says Kennedy, the federal government should undertake a multi-pronged approach that includes the imposition of carbon taxes and the raising of CAFE standards for American-made automobiles. In 2013 Kennedy voted against a proposal to require congressional approval before a carbon emissions tax could be imposed. And in 2015 he opposed a bill that aimed to bar federal agencies from considering the “social cost” of carbon emissions in environmental reviews.
In August 2015, Kennedy announced that he was in support of the nuclear deal that the Obama administration had recently negotiated with Iran—an agreement allowing the regime in Tehran to: inspect its own Parchin nuclear weapons research site, conduct uranium enrichment, build advanced centrifuges, purchase ballistic missiles, continue to fund international terrorism, and have a near-zero breakout time to a nuclear bomb approximately a decade down the road. (For additional details about the accord, click here.) “I support this deal because it is the best means before us today to keep nuclear weapons out of Iranian hands,” said Kennedy.
Kennedy believes that:
- the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is a good law that can serve as a stepping stone toward the eventual implementation of a government-run, single-payer healthcare system;
- all employers, public and private, should be legally required to implement affirmative-action hiring and promotion policies that give preference to African Americans and women, as compensation for historical injustices;
- all forms of religious expression in public places—such as prayer in public schools or the posting of the Ten Commandments in government buildings—should be forbidden;
- wealthy people should be required to pay much higher tax rates than those who earn less;
- U.S. defense spending should be scaled back dramatically;
- voter ID laws are, by and large, racially motivated attempts to suppress minority voting;
- voucher programs designed to enable low-income parents to send their children to private schools are undesirable because they divert vital resources from the public education system;
- capital punishment is never justified, under any circumstances; and
- the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision, which had struck down a ban preventing corporations and labor unions from funding the production of campaign ads for federal political candidates, “should be reversed.”
For a more detailed look at Kennedy's congressional voting record and issue positions, click here.
 The raising of CAFE standards is a practice that has compromised the structural integrity of many vehicles and has led directly to the deaths of thousands of drivers each year.