TOPICS > Nation

Key Moments in Kennedy’s Legislative Career

BY Vanessa Dennis  August 26, 2009 at 12:00 AM EDT

Photo Credit: John F. Kennedy Library

Feb. 22, 1932

Edward Moore Kennedy is born the youngest of nine children to Joseph and Rose Kennedy.

1962

Wins special election to fill brother John’s U.S. Senate seat.

1965

Kennedy shepherds one of his first major pieces of legislation, the Immigration Act of 1965, through the Senate.

1972

Among other legislative efforts during this period, Kennedy starts to focus on health and education issues, and helps support initiatives like Title IX, which equalized opportunities for female students.

1980

Challenges incumbent President Jimmy Carter in the Democratic primary, but loses. In his convention speech, he ends with: “For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.”

1982

Kennedy is a chief sponsor of the Voting Rights Act Amendments.

1987

Kennedy gives an impassioned Senate floor speech opposing conservative Robert Bork for the Supreme Court. The Senate ultimately rejected Bork’s nomination. During this year, he also supports a minimum wage increase and welfare-to-jobs programs.

1990

Helps shepherd the Americans with Disabilities Act into law.

1994

Helps broker the passage of the Family and Medical Leave Act.

1996

Kennedy is one of the sponsors of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which creates opportunities for health insurance coverage for people who change jobs or lose their jobs.

1997

With Sen. Orrin Hatch, Kennedy leads an effort to enact the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

2002

Helps pass President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind education reform law.

Aug. 25, 2008

Addresses Democratic convention delegates with homage to his brother’s presidency: “Our people answered his call and rose to the challenge, and today an American flag still marks the surface of the moon. Yes, we are all Americans. This is what we do. We reach the moon. We scale the heights. I know it. I’ve seen it. I’ve lived it. And we can do it again.”

Learn more about Kennedy’s life at NPR: Edward M. Kennedy: A Life of Service