Robert Francis Kennedy Jr. is an American environmental lawyer and author, known for promoting anti-vaccine propaganda and conspiracy theories.
He is the son of U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy and the nephew of President John F. Kennedy.
Kennedy has contributed to the founding of the non-profit environmental group Waterkeeper Alliance and has written or edited ten books.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was born in 1954 in Washington D.C. to Senator and attorney general Robert F. Kennedy and Ethel Kennedy.
Kennedy grew up in McLean, Virginia, and Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and was only 14 years old when his father was assassinated while running for president in the 1968 Democratic presidential primaries.
Kennedy graduated from Harvard College in 1976 with a Bachelor of Arts in American History and Literature. He then went on to earn a Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia and a Master of Laws from Pace University.
Robert Francis Kennedy’s Career
Kennedy served as an Assistant District Attorney in Manhattan, and in 1986 he joined the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), where he worked until 2017 as a senior attorney.
He also served as an adjunct professor of environmental law at Pace University School of Law for over thirty years.
He founded Pace Law School’s Environmental Litigation Clinic in 1987 and held the post of supervising attorney and co-director until August 2017.
Kennedy’s work on environmental law led him to be considered for the position of Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency in 2008.
In 1984, Kennedy joined Riverkeeper as an investigator and was promoted to senior attorney in 1985.
Until 2017, he served as a board member and attorney for Hudson Riverkeeper, litigating and supervising environmental enforcement lawsuits on the east coast estuaries on behalf of Hudson Riverkeeper and the Long Island Soundkeeper.
Since 2005, Kennedy has been promoting the scientifically discredited link between vaccines and autism. He is the founder and chairman of Children’s Health Defense, an anti-vaccine propaganda group.
He has also emerged as a leading proponent of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation in the United States since the onset of the pandemic.
Presidential Ambition and Campaign
On April 5, 2023, Kennedy filed paperwork to run for president of the United States in the 2024 election as a Democrat.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is a licensed master falconer and has been training hawks since he was 11 years old.
He holds several licenses, including Federal Game Keeper, Bird Bander, Scientific Collector, and licenses for raptor propagation and wildlife rehabilitation. Kennedy was President of the New York State Falconry Association from 1988 to 1991.
In 1987, he authored the examination to qualify apprentice falconers given by New York State while on Governor Mario Cuomo’s New York State Falconry Advising Committee. He also wrote the New York State Apprentice Falconer’s Manual later that year, which continues to be in use today.
Kennedy is also a whitewater kayaker. He was introduced to the sport by his father during early trips down various rivers in Utah, Colorado, Idaho, and the Columbia River. From 1976 to 1981, he was a partner and guide at a whitewater company called “Utopian” based in West Forks, Maine.
He has organized and led several “first-descent” whitewater expeditions to Latin America, including the Apurimac, Peru in 1975, the Atrato, Colombia in 1979, and the Caroni, Venezuela in 1982.
He made an early descent of the Great Whale River in Northern Quebec in 1993 and has also made many trips to Patagonia, Chile to run the Biobío River, the Futaleufú, and other whitewater rivers.
In 2015, Kennedy took two of his sons to the Yukon to visit Mount Kennedy and run the Alsek River, a whitewater river fed by the Alsek Glacier.
Mount Kennedy was Canada’s highest unclimbed peak when the Canadian government named it for the assassinated American president in 1964. In 1965, his father became the first person to climb Mount Kennedy.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr Wife and children
Kennedy married Emily Ruth Black on April 3, 1982, whom he met at the University of Virginia School of Law.
They had two children together: Robert Francis “Bobby” Kennedy III and Kathleen Alexandra (‘Kick’) Kennedy.
Kennedy and Black separated in 1992 and divorced in 1994.
Kennedy married Mary Kathleen Richardson on April 15, 1994, aboard a research vessel on the Hudson River.
They had four children: Conor Richardson Kennedy, Kyra LeMoyne Kennedy, William Finbar “Finn” Kennedy, and Aidan Caohman Vieques Kennedy.
On May 12, 2010, Kennedy filed for divorce from Mary, and three days later, she was charged with drunk driving. On May 16, 2012, Mary was found dead in a building on the grounds of her home in Mount Kisco, New York.
The Westchester County Medical Examiner ruled her death a suicide due to asphyxiation from hanging.
Kennedy married his third wife, actress-director Cheryl Hines, on August 2, 2014, at the Kennedy compound on Cape Cod.
They were introduced by Hines’ co-star Larry David, from the HBO series Curb Your Enthusiasm, and began dating in 2012.