Justice Kline graduated from Johns Hopkins with honors. He attended graduate school at Cornell as an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow. At Yale Law School he received the Gherini and Sutherland Cup prizes.

After graduation from law school, Justice Kline served as law clerk to Justice Raymond E. Peters of the California Supreme Court. Thereafter he was for four years an attorney in New York with the Wall Street firm of Davis Polk and Wardwell. In 1971, after returning to California, he served as a Legal Services Lawyer and was one of the founders of Public Advocates, Inc., the first non-profit public interest law firm in the west. He was Managing Attorney of Public Advocates when, in January 1975, he was appointed Legal Affairs Secretary to Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr.

As Legal Affairs Secretary, Justice Kline served on the Governor’s cabinet for six years, until he was appointed to the San Francisco Superior Court in September 1980. He was appointed Presiding Justice of Division Two of  the Court of Appeal in December 1982.

In 42 years on the bench, J. Anthony Kline, California’s senior appellate justice, has issued a ruling overhauling the state’s cash bail system.

He wrote another historic opinion, a dissenting opinion, that would have legalized same-sex marriage. While his dissenting opinion had no legal effect, Kline’s view of the law took effect six years later after a state Supreme Court ruling, a reversal by the voters and a turnabout by the U.S. Supreme Court.