Robert Walker Kenny (August 21, 1901 – July 20, 1976) was the 21st Attorney General of California, serving from 1943 to 1947.
Kenny, a Democrat, was an early advocate for civil rights in California. He restructured the California Department of Justice (DOJ) to be similar to the United States Department of Justice; for example, he transferred the California DOJ main office from San Francisco closer to the state legislature in Sacramento, and created civil service positions instead of political appointments within the California DOJ. He also was instrumental in abolishing the legal existence of the Ku Klux Klan in California.
Kenny also served as a Municipal Court Judge and later a Superior Court Judge in Los Angeles, California. He served in the California State Senate from 1939-1943. From 1940 to 1948, Kenny was President of the Los Angeles Chapter of the National Lawyers' Guild and in that capacity was involved in the aftermath of the Zoot Suit Riots.
In 1946, Kenny sought the Democratic nomination for Governor, but was defeated by Earl Warren. Although Warren was a Republican, California law at that time permitted a candidate to run in both primaries, a practice known as cross-filing. Warren also won the Republican nomination that year and went on to score an easy general election victory.
Robert Walker Kenny was born in Los Angeles, California on August 21, 1901. His father, Robert Wolfenden Kenny (1863-1914) was a successful banker and civic leader in Los Angeles and Berkeley, California. Kenny's grandfather, George L. Kenny, arrived in San Francisco in the early 1850s with his friends, the brothers A.L. Bancroft and Hubert Howe Bancroft. The three men formed a partnership and established the first bookstore in San Francisco.
Kenny died on July 20, 1976 at the age of 74.
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