July 16, 2019

Justice John Paul Stevens has died.

He lived to the age of 99.

Linda Greenhouse has a long obituary in the NYT. Excerpt:
When he retired in 2010 at the age of 90, Justice Stevens was the second-oldest and the second-longest-serving justice ever to sit on the court. Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. was about eight months older when he retired in 1932, and William O. Douglas had served 36 years (1939-75)....
Justice Stevens served for 35 years.
Societal debates over the rights of gay men and lesbians, the role of race, private property rights, environmental regulation and the separation of church and state also made their way onto the Supreme Court’s docket, and Justice Stevens, a soft-spoken Republican and former antitrust lawyer from Chicago, was as surprised as anyone to find himself not only taking the liberal side but also becoming its ardent champion....

[In his early years on the Court his] reputation was that of a very smart, nonideological, slightly quirky loner who, if a case was decided by a vote of 8 to 1, was as likely as not to be the solitary dissenter, caring neither to lead nor to follow....

The court’s membership turned over completely and moved indisputably to the right during Justice Stevens’s long tenure on the bench.... But the emergence of John Paul Stevens as the court’s most liberal justice was not simply a result of standing still amid a shifting landscape. His own views changed over time, moving to the left, particularly on the death penalty and on questions of racially conscious government policies....

Justice Stevens was known around the court for treating others with sensitivity and respect. One former law clerk, Christopher L. Eisgruber, described in a 1993 essay an incident at a party for new clerks: Before Justice Stevens arrived, an older male justice had instructed one of the few female clerks present to serve coffee. When Justice Stevens entered, he quickly grasped the situation, walked up to the young woman and said: “Thank you for taking your turn with the coffee. I think it’s my turn now.” He took over the job.

72 comments:

Birkel said...

I hope he and RBG have a long and happy time together, over yonder.
Gerald Ford's worst mistake.

Drago said...

Birkel: "I hope he and RBG have a long and happy time together, over yonder.
Gerald Ford's worst mistake."

Not at all. As a GOPe-er Ford would no doubt consider his appt of a huge lefty to the SC as a big victory.

Romney/McCain/Kasich et al would be happy to have done the same.

Without exception.

Krumhorn said...

We can often count on a Republican President to appoint a leftie while selling the nominee as a conservative. Warren, Souter, and Roberts followed on this path. I can’t recall a Dem nominee who shocked everyone by being sensible.

- Krumhorn

Bay Area Guy said...

RIP after a good long life - but truth be told, not particularly faithful to the Constitution.

Republican appointees:
Stevens
Kennedy
Souter
Now Roberts

Lotta swings & misses....,,..

Sheridan said...

I wonder if Justice Stevens thought of himself as a philosopher-king, straight out of Plato's Republic. He certainly acted as one, in my opinion.

Bay Area Guy said...

And, of course, in the Mesozoic age - Warren & Brennan.

stephen cooper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Begley said...

The Romans said to speak no ill of the dead, but I’ll break that rule in this case. Stevens was the worst Justice of the last 50 years. His majority opinion declaring carbon dioxide a pollutant is at the heart of the global warming scam.

I’m sure he was a nice man but he never should have been on SCOTUS.

Big Mike said...

I despised the man for his position regarding the 2nd Amendment. I’m a long way from being alone.

traditionalguy said...

I take it he believed that Marbury v. Madison gave absolute power to whomever wiggled his way into being the 5th vote, and the other 320,000,000 Americans had to obey him or else. Nice gig for a law student.

Known Unknown said...

He's should've stayed out of politics and stuck with his mod band in the 60s. The Merseyside Ramblers could really go.

D. said...

Oh my clown world lost a leader

stephen cooper said...

Birkel, my young friend --- all of us are flawed.
When I went to law school as a military veteran, there were two or three veterans who were law professors - the husband of RBG was one of them, and he was very kind to me (he had no idea I was a fellow veteran, but he was very kind to me because I worked harder in his tax class than anyone else). Whatever flaws RBG has, she was good enough of a woman to be the wife of one of the most caring teachers I have ever met, so there's that.
Let us not criticize people who have recently died for their faults - God knows poor John Paul Stevens was not a lovable man, and he will be quickly forgotten by history, and he was on the wrong side of important moral issues, and he displayed to all the world his lack of concern for the poor and for the helpless ---- but he too was a child of God. And he probably did many good things in life, despite his moral stupidity. Let's be forgiving, to the extent we can, my young friend.
When John Paul II died, I knew that, despite his obvious faults, excitable people would try to proclaim him a saint, and that he would not be prayed for as much as people should pray for the dead, because excitable and dishonest people had reasons to call him John Paul The Great, despite his obvious flaws ----- it is so sad.
Please join me in praying for the souls of poor Justice Stevens, whose impact on history will mostly be bad - the poor fellow would not have liked to know that, but it is what it is ---- and for poor John Paul II - who, despite his prayerfulness and his love for God, made so many mistakes, and who left so many people out in the cold, because he simply did not care enough.
you know that it true, I know that it is true, there is nothing to argue about, all we can do is offer up our prayers, and, to a certain extent, our sufferings, for people who have not been in this world what God wanted them to be.
Like poor Justice John Paul Stevens and poor Pope John Paul.

We are all flawed, and God loves us all. Remember I said that if you don't remember anything else I ever said.

rcocean said...

Stevens was not a Gerald Ford "mistake". Ford made it clear he was proud of nominating a "Moderate" to the Court. People forget that Ford was a social liberal despite all the "Impeach Warren" boob bait. Bork said Stevens was a "Moderate Leftist". And that after Stevens got on Court: "Initially, it wasn’t clear it was left Stevens was moving to, but he was beginning to spin out jurisprudence theories that had nothing much to do with anything. And then, gradually, it became a left-ward trend

Pat Buchanan asked Ford after the Stevens nomination, how many more judges like Stevens he was going to put on the Federal Bench and Ford Said "Every one of them will be moderate". Buchanan called up the Reagan campaign the next day and offered his services.

Birkel said...

Drago,
Granting, arguendo, that you are correct on those points, then Gerald Ford's worst mistake was being eGOP.

But Ford's worst mistake for the country - my point - was appointing Stevens.

Birkel said...

Stephen Cooper,
We're not friends.
Insert potty mouth words here.

Unknown said...

Justice Stevens was known around the court for treating others with sensitivity and respect.

Except for when he was taking peoples homes from them. The Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment indicates that the government may only take private property for a "public use." In Kelo, Stevens wrote the 5-4 Supreme Court majority opinion, which ruled that almost any potential public benefit qualifies as "public use." This permitted the City of New London to take fifteen residential properties for purposes of transfer to a new private owner in order to increase "economic development."

rcocean said...

Stevens shows why we need to get rid of "Life" for judges and go to 20 years. Its absurd that 89 year old Stevens was deciding cases. People over 80 shouldn't be involved in deciding the future of people who are 30.

rcocean said...

There was nothing wrong with Stevens the man, he was just a horrible judge. He wasn't like Souter who LIED about being a Conservative. Stevens in his later years, still thought the USA was like when he graduated from Law School in 1949.

rcocean said...

If you're liberal then Greenhouse writes a obit about how wonderful you were and how everyone loved you, except those awful know-nothing rednecks. I wonder what they wrote about Rehnquist? Probably "he was a racist, y'know".

Birkel said...

There was nothing wrong with the man who asserted himself into issues that are not properly federal?
The guy who viewed himself as above the hoi polloi?
The guy who ignored the text of the document he swore to uphold?

Yeah, fuck that.
He was power hungry son of a bitch.

The Vault Dweller said...

I like that he wrote an essay after retirement advocating that we repeal the 2nd amendment. I wish more retired justices and judges would give their political opinions. Now I certainly disagree about repealing the 2nd, but it is healthy to see an argument for political change within the preset framework of the amendment process rather than novel and creative judicial theory.

narciso said...

He regretted having hunted down Yamamoto, the premier military strategist of the opposition

Kathryn51 said...

I won't take the time to search for it, but if I recall correctly, her write-up of Justice Scalia was one of the ugliest, vile hit pieces imaginable. I don't recall any of those homey little tidbits of humility that she spreads around for Justice Stevens - a man who was insufferable in his old age.

stephen cooper said...

Birkel - I never said "we" were friends, except to the extent that all human beings, and for that matter, all creatures of God are my friends .
Is English your native language?
I think maybe not.

Anyway, pray tonight for both John Pauls, God will listen to you, my poor angry young friend.

Calm down.

stephen cooper said...

Yamamoto deserved to die the ignominious death of war criminals but he was blessed to be killed in battle
NARCISO YOU KNOW THAT

stephen cooper said...

Birkel - of course he was a power hungry son of a bitch.

I will probably have somewhere north of a million descendants.
Some of them will be power hungry sons of bitches, in the mold of poor John Paul Stevens.
And I will ask you to pray for them, too.

n.n said...

Selective exclusion, diversity, redistributive change, fascism... witch hunts and warlock trials. Separation of church, synagogue, temple, mosque, chamber, etc. and state, right? Why the bigotry? Why so Pro-Choice?

narciso said...

He was a relative moderate like yamashita, how ever he did plan and coordinate pearl harbour

Birkel said...

Stephen Cooper,
Fuck your sanctimony.
Fuck it hard.

Birkel said...

Odd that somebody on the internet thinks they can judge emotion.
I don't suffer fools.
I don't suffer the power hungry.

But Stevens' death does not leave me even the slightest bit angry or sad.
I'll let God have his say.
I'm judging his public acts as a free citizen; I'm Caesar rendering judgment.

stephen cooper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
stephen cooper said...

feel free to have the last word, I am done with this back and forth

Chuck said...

There can simply be no doubt, but that Stevens moved to the left.

Look at his dissent in Bowers v. Hardwick (1986), where he thought that the basis to overturn a conviction based on a state anti-sodomy law was "selective enforcement." By 2003, Stevens was joining the majority opinion of Justice Kennedy in Lawrence v. Texas. (The apparent price of all of the homosexual rights cases being that Kennedy got to write the sole majority opinion.)

{#3}

Birkel said...

Don't get Chuck started on the issues he really cares about.

Michael K said...

Stephens was Ford's worst decision. No question. He bragged about it.

Chuck said...

Bay Area Guy said...
RIP after a good long life - but truth be told, not particularly faithful to the Constitution.

Republican appointees:
Stevens
Kennedy
Souter
Now Roberts

Lotta swings & misses....,,..


Scalia
Thomas
Yes, Roberts
Alito
Gorsuch
Kavanaugh

{#4}

Bork...? Sorry, just kidding. But we got Kennedy only because Bork was Borked.

PJ said...

I don’t think Justice Stevens (may he rest in peace) was a power-hungry son of a bitch, I think he’s an example of what happens to a “moderate” man who holds a position of that much power for that long, even when he’s not a power-hungry son of a bitch.

Chuck said...

Birkel said...
Don't get Chuck started on the issues he really cares about.


My point was to illustrate that it was not a simple matter of the Court's membership moving far to the right by attrition and through Republican nominations. Stevens himself moved to the left. The homosexual rights cases are a good illustration of Stevens himself moving hard to the left.

Whizzer White, a moderate Democrat nominated by JFK, wrote the majority opinion in Bowers. That is where moderate Democrats were in 1986.

{#5}

iowan2 said...

Stevens shows why we need to get rid of "Life" for judges and go to 20 years. Its absurd that 89 year old Stevens was deciding cases. People over 80 shouldn't be involved in deciding the future of people who are 30.

If the SCOTUS justices were the wise oracles they imagine themselves to be, they would announce with the death of Ginsberg, they have determined the age of retirement, while voluntary, would be 78 years. Then those nine justices lead by example. By the time the last one turns 78 and retires, an almost unbreakable tradition would be ingrained in the minds of the public. Any future SCOTUS judge that would try elbow his way into his 79th birthday without retiring would then be met with over whelming public ridicule.

narciso said...

When you stand for no principle you'll fall for anything take kelo, or the firse amendment or death penalty

D. said...

>https://thehill.com/regulation/court-battles/453362-judge-signs-order-permanently-blocking-citizenship-question-from<

This "Judge" should be term limited ballistically. There is a "Supreme Court".

Birkel said...

PJ,
You're wrong but no shame in that.

Chuck,
You're right and uninspired but no shame in that.

Birkel said...

iowan2,
Breyer is a sticky wicket for your plan.
But I approve his retirement wholeheartedly.

Josephbleau said...

I want to live in a nation that expresses it's laws clearly where the common man can trust the clear statements of what is punished or not.

Josephbleau said...

Unlike the United States of America

Birkel said...

Josephbleau,

I think courts should invalidate laws that cannot be understood by people of ordinary intelligence.
For tax laws, if the average CPA or tax attorney cannot understand a law, it should be unenforceable.

Narayanan said...

Why be coy about it :

Justice X served for n years.

Be forthwith and say

Justice X ruled for n years

gspencer said...

No friend of the Constitution as written. Could read invisible ink.

Gary said...

J P Stevens proves that there were once honorable Republicans. As a Republican moderate he objected to being called "liberal" as radical-Right judges began their ascension to the majority of the Supreme Court. He will be known for his passionate dissents from the worst decisions of the Court.
Again in the comments, I find myself greatly outnumbered by the radical conservatives who follow Althouse.

Krumhorn said...

Again in the comments, I find myself greatly outnumbered by the radical conservatives who follow Althouse.

Don’t be ridiculous. This place only looks radical to the hardcore lefties who believe they have a monopoly on virtue. Most of the folks here are generally pretty sensible and naturally resist the intrusion of big gub’ment and the power of the deep state. Stevens was a librul plain and simple.

- Krumhorn

madAsHell said...

.....at least Stevens had the courtesy to step-down before death.

RBG???

Rory said...

"Again in the comments, I find myself greatly outnumbered by the radical conservatives who follow Althouse."

Again in reality, there are a lot of people who comment here who who don't fit in your frame.

And another thing said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
And another thing said...

“J P Stevens proves that there were once honorable Republicans”

AKA Cucks who did the Democrats’ bidding hoping for social approval and invitations to the nice parties, the ones where Harvey Weinstein used to provide the glamour by sending Hollywood stars.

MadisonMan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MadisonMan said...

(Reposted to correct silly typo)

I appreciate his service. I probably don't agree with many things he did, but service to the country is something that should be encouraged.

Josephbleau said...

I don’t consider being a rep or senator a public service at all. It is a get rich quick scheme of legal corruption. Poor guys check in and multi millionaires check out, like the great public servant hero Harry Reid.

And another thing said...

If it weren’t for the turncoats, if “Justices” were appointed by our democratic rules, the Republicans would have owned the SCOTUS for a long time now. That’s why we don’t call it the “Democratic Party."

Marcus said...

Why would you think being a SCOTUS Justice is some sort of "public service"?

THEOLDMAN

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

I can’t recall a Dem nominee who shocked everyone by being sensible.


Liberal justices aren't motivated to be sensible. They get invited to all the cool parties by not being sensible.

dreams said...

Good.

dreams said...

He was a piss poor excuse for a justice.

Swede said...

Instead of faithfully applying the Constitution, he often put his own desires before it.

This was particularly true regarding the 2nd Amendment.

Imagine knowing what the founders intent was but violating your oath of office because you didn't like.

It was a shame he didn't retire earlier.

dreams said...

Ruth Bader Ginsburg... tick tock, tick tock.

Skippy Tisdale said...

The guy gave us Kelo and wanted to repeal the Second Amendment. Fuck him.

Skippy Tisdale said...

"Calm down."

Take a hike you pious prig.

Matthew 23: 27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.

28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

MadTownGuy said...

From the article:

"[In his early years on the Court his] reputation was that of a very smart, nonideological, slightly quirky loner who, if a case was decided by a vote of 8 to 1, was as likely as not to be the solitary dissenter, caring neither to lead nor to follow."

Nonideological? Isn't he the guy who wanted to add six amendments to the Constitution?

Why, yes, he was. Here's a fan's summary - probably oversimplified, but if nothing else, brief:

What Are Justice Stevens’s Proposed Six Amendments?

1. The “Anti-Commandeering Rule” (Amend the Supremacy Clause of Article VI) This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges and other public officials. in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.

2. Political Gerrymandering – Districts represented by members of Congress, or by members of any state legislative body, shall be compact and composed of contiguous territory. The state shall have the burden of justifying any departures from this requirement by reference to neutral criteria such as natural, political, or historical boundaries or demographic changes. The interest in enhancing or preserving the political power of the party in control of the state government is not such a neutral criterion.

3. Campaign Finance – Neither the First Amendment nor any other provision of this Constitution shall be construed to prohibit the Congress or any state from imposing reasonable limits on the amount of money that candidates for public office, or their supporters, may spend in election campaigns.

4. Sovereign Immunity – Neither the Tenth Amendment, the Eleventh Amendment, nor any other provision of this Constitution, shall be construed to provide any state, state agency, or state officer with an immunity from liability for violating any act of Congress, or any provision of this Constitution.

5. Death Penalty– (Amend the 8th Amendment) Excessive Bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments such as the death penalty inflicted.

6. The Second Amendment – (Amend the 2nd Amendment) A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms when serving in the Militia shall not be infringed.


MadTownGuy said...

The post omitted the hyperlink but I include it here again:

<a href="http://joshblackman.com/blog/2014/03/04/what-are-justice-stevenss-proposed-six-amendments/>What Are Justice Stevens’s Proposed Six Amendments?</a>

Big Mike said...

Justice Stevens was wrong about how to amend the 2nd Amendment. The proper text is:

The natural right to self defense being unalienable, the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Unknown said...

At Last.

Now waiting for Roberts and Kavanaugh to croak. Why did we fight for that guy?

Liberal block already dead to me.

stephen cooper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.