John Paul Stevens

John Paul Stevens

Overview
John Paul Stevens served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States are the members of the Supreme Court of the United States other than the Chief Justice of the United States...

 from December 19, 1975 until his retirement on June 29, 2010. At the time of his retirement, he was the oldest member of the Court and the third-longest serving justice in the Court's history. He was nominated by President Gerald Ford
Gerald Ford
Gerald Rudolph "Jerry" Ford, Jr. was the 38th President of the United States, serving from 1974 to 1977, and the 40th Vice President of the United States serving from 1973 to 1974...

 to replace the Court's longest serving justice, William O. Douglas
William O. Douglas
William Orville Douglas was an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. With a term lasting 36 years and 209 days, he is the longest-serving justice in the history of the Supreme Court...

. Stevens is widely considered to have been on the liberal side of the Court. Ford praised Stevens in 2005: "He is serving his nation well, with dignity, intellect and without partisan political concerns." Asked in an interview in September 2007 if he still considers himself a Republican, Stevens declined to comment.

Stevens served with three Chief Justices
Chief Justice of the United States
The Chief Justice of the United States is the head of the United States federal court system and the chief judge of the Supreme Court of the United States. The Chief Justice is one of nine Supreme Court justices; the other eight are the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States...

 (Warren E. Burger
Warren E. Burger
Warren Earl Burger was the 15th Chief Justice of the United States from 1969 to 1986. Although Burger had conservative leanings, the U.S...

, William Rehnquist
William Rehnquist
William Hubbs Rehnquist was an American lawyer, jurist, and political figure who served as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States and later as the 16th Chief Justice of the United States...

, and John G.
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Encyclopedia
John Paul Stevens served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States are the members of the Supreme Court of the United States other than the Chief Justice of the United States...

 from December 19, 1975 until his retirement on June 29, 2010. At the time of his retirement, he was the oldest member of the Court and the third-longest serving justice in the Court's history. He was nominated by President Gerald Ford
Gerald Ford
Gerald Rudolph "Jerry" Ford, Jr. was the 38th President of the United States, serving from 1974 to 1977, and the 40th Vice President of the United States serving from 1973 to 1974...

 to replace the Court's longest serving justice, William O. Douglas
William O. Douglas
William Orville Douglas was an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. With a term lasting 36 years and 209 days, he is the longest-serving justice in the history of the Supreme Court...

. Stevens is widely considered to have been on the liberal side of the Court. Ford praised Stevens in 2005: "He is serving his nation well, with dignity, intellect and without partisan political concerns." Asked in an interview in September 2007 if he still considers himself a Republican, Stevens declined to comment.

Stevens served with three Chief Justices
Chief Justice of the United States
The Chief Justice of the United States is the head of the United States federal court system and the chief judge of the Supreme Court of the United States. The Chief Justice is one of nine Supreme Court justices; the other eight are the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States...

 (Warren E. Burger
Warren E. Burger
Warren Earl Burger was the 15th Chief Justice of the United States from 1969 to 1986. Although Burger had conservative leanings, the U.S...

, William Rehnquist
William Rehnquist
William Hubbs Rehnquist was an American lawyer, jurist, and political figure who served as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States and later as the 16th Chief Justice of the United States...

, and John G. Roberts).

Early life, 1920–1947


Stevens was born on April 20, 1920, in Hyde Park
Hyde Park, Chicago
Hyde Park, located on the South Side of the City of Chicago, in Cook County, Illinois, United States and seven miles south of the Chicago Loop, is a Chicago neighborhood and one of 77 Chicago community areas. It is home to the University of Chicago, the Hyde Park Art Center, the Museum of Science...

, Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

, Illinois, to a wealthy family. His paternal grandfather had formed an insurance company and held real estate in Chicago, while his great-uncle owned the Chas A. Stevens
Chas A. Stevens
Chas A. Stevens was a Chicago department store. It started in 1886 as a catalog business and eventually grew to 29 locations in the Chicago metropolitan area. In 1988 the chain filed for bankruptcy and liquidated....

 department store. His father, Ernest James Stevens, was a lawyer who later became a hotelier, owning two hotels, the La Salle and the Stevens Hotel. He lost ownership of the hotels during the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

 and was convicted of embezzlement
Embezzlement
Embezzlement is the act of dishonestly appropriating or secreting assets by one or more individuals to whom such assets have been entrusted....

 (the conviction was later overturned). (The Stevens Hotel was subsequently bought by Hilton Hotels
Hilton Hotels
Hilton Hotels & Resorts is an international chain of full-service hotels and resorts founded by Conrad Hilton and now owned by Hilton Worldwide. Hilton hotels are either owned by, managed by, or franchised to independent operators by Hilton Worldwide. Hilton Hotels became the first coast-to-coast...

 and is today the Chicago Hilton and Towers.) His mother, Elizabeth Maude Street Stevens, a native of Michigan City, Indiana
Michigan City, Indiana
Michigan City's origins date to 1830, when the land for the city was first purchased by Isaac C. Elston. Elston Middle School, formerly Elston High School, located at 317 Detroit St., is named after the founder....

, was a high school English teacher. Two of his three older brothers also became lawyers.

As a boy, Stevens attended the 1932 World Series
1932 World Series
The 1932 World Series was played between the New York Yankees and the Chicago Cubs , with the Yankees holding home field advantage. The Yankees swept the Cubs, four games to none...

 baseball game in Chicago's Wrigley Field
Wrigley Field
Wrigley Field is a baseball stadium in Chicago, Illinois, United States that has served as the home ballpark of the Chicago Cubs since 1916. It was built in 1914 as Weeghman Park for the Chicago Federal League baseball team, the Chicago Whales...

, where he saw Babe Ruth
Babe Ruth
George Herman Ruth, Jr. , best known as "Babe" Ruth and nicknamed "the Bambino" and "the Sultan of Swat", was an American Major League baseball player from 1914–1935...

 call his shot
Babe Ruth's Called Shot
Babe Ruth's called shot was the home run hit by Babe Ruth of the New York Yankees in the fifth inning of Game 3 of the 1932 World Series, held on October 1, 1932 at Wrigley Field in Chicago. During the at-bat, Ruth made a pointing gesture, which existing film confirms, but the exact nature of his...

. He later recalled: "Ruth did point to the center-field scoreboard. And he did hit the ball out of the park after he pointed with his bat. So it really happened." He also had the opportunity to meet several notable people of the era, including the famed aviator
Aviator
An aviator is a person who flies an aircraft. The first recorded use of the term was in 1887, as a variation of 'aviation', from the Latin avis , coined in 1863 by G. de la Landelle in Aviation Ou Navigation Aérienne...

s Amelia Earhart
Amelia Earhart
Amelia Mary Earhart was a noted American aviation pioneer and author. Earhart was the first woman to receive the U.S. Distinguished Flying Cross, awarded for becoming the first aviatrix to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean...

 and Charles Lindbergh
Charles Lindbergh
Charles Augustus Lindbergh was an American aviator, author, inventor, explorer, and social activist.Lindbergh, a 25-year-old U.S...

, the latter of whom gave him a caged dove as a gift. During his adolescent years, Stevens was a camper at Camp Highlands on Plum Lake near Sayner, Wisconsin.

The family lived in Hyde Park
Hyde Park, Chicago
Hyde Park, located on the South Side of the City of Chicago, in Cook County, Illinois, United States and seven miles south of the Chicago Loop, is a Chicago neighborhood and one of 77 Chicago community areas. It is home to the University of Chicago, the Hyde Park Art Center, the Museum of Science...

, and John Paul Stevens attended the University of Chicago Laboratory School. He subsequently obtained a Bachelor of Arts in English
English studies
English studies is an academic discipline that includes the study of literatures written in the English language , English linguistics English studies is an academic discipline that includes the study of literatures written in the English language (including literatures from the U.K., U.S.,...

 from the University of Chicago
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It was founded by the American Baptist Education Society with a donation from oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller and incorporated in 1890...

 in 1941; while in college, Stevens also became a member of the Omega chapter of Psi Upsilon
Psi Upsilon
Psi Upsilon is the fifth oldest college fraternity in the United States, founded at Union College in 1833. It has chapters at colleges and universities throughout North America. For most of its history, Psi Upsilon, like most social fraternities, limited its membership to men only...

.

He began work on his master's degree in English at the university in 1941, but soon decided to join the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

, He enlisted on December 6, 1941, one day before the attack on Pearl Harbor
Attack on Pearl Harbor
The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike conducted by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on the morning of December 7, 1941...

, and served as an intelligence officer in the Pacific Theater
Pacific Theater of Operations
The Pacific Theater of Operations was the World War II area of military activity in the Pacific Ocean and the countries bordering it, a geographic scope that reflected the operational and administrative command structures of the American forces during that period...

 from 1942 to 1945. Stevens was awarded a Bronze Star
Bronze Star Medal
The Bronze Star Medal is a United States Armed Forces individual military decoration that may be awarded for bravery, acts of merit, or meritorious service. As a medal it is awarded for merit, and with the "V" for valor device it is awarded for heroism. It is the fourth-highest combat award of the...

 for his service in the codebreaking team whose work led to the downing of Japanese
Empire of Japan
The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

 Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto
Isoroku Yamamoto
was a Japanese Naval Marshal General and the commander-in-chief of the Combined Fleet during World War II, a graduate of the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy and a student of Harvard University ....

's plane in 1943.

Stevens married Elizabeth Jane Shereen in June 1942. Divorcing her in 1979, he married Maryan Mulholland Simon that December. He has four children: John Joseph (who died of cancer in 1996), Kathryn, Elizabeth and Susan.

With the end of World War II, Stevens returned to Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

 intending to return to his studies in English
English studies
English studies is an academic discipline that includes the study of literatures written in the English language , English linguistics English studies is an academic discipline that includes the study of literatures written in the English language (including literatures from the U.K., U.S.,...

, but was persuaded by his brother Richard, who was a lawyer, to attend law school
Law school
A law school is an institution specializing in legal education.- Law degrees :- Canada :...

. Stevens enrolled in the Northwestern University School of Law
Northwestern University School of Law
The Northwestern University School of Law is a private American law school in Chicago, Illinois. The law school was founded in 1859 as the Union College of Law of the Old University of Chicago. The first law school established in Chicago, it became jointly controlled by Northwestern University in...

 in 1945 (the G.I. Bill mostly paying his way). He was a brilliant student, earning the highest GPA
Grade (education)
Grades are standardized measurements of varying levels of comprehension within a subject area. Grades can be assigned in letters , as a range , as a number out of a possible total , as descriptors , in percentages, or, as is common in some post-secondary...

 in the history of the law school. He received his J.D.
Juris Doctor
Juris Doctor is a professional doctorate and first professional graduate degree in law.The degree was first awarded by Harvard University in the United States in the late 19th century and was created as a modern version of the old European doctor of law degree Juris Doctor (see etymology and...

 in 1947, graduating magna cum laude.

Legal career, 1947–1970


Given his stellar academic performance in law school, several prominent Northwestern faculty members recommended Stevens for a Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 clerkship: he served as a clerk to Justice Wiley Rutledge during the 1947–48 term. (This service, Stevens has said, deeply inspired him, as evident from his Rutledgean focus on the careful interpretation of the facts in a case present in his opinions.)

Following his clerkship, Stevens returned to Chicago and joined the law firm
Law firm
A law firm is a business entity formed by one or more lawyers to engage in the practice of law. The primary service rendered by a law firm is to advise clients about their legal rights and responsibilities, and to represent clients in civil or criminal cases, business transactions, and other...

 of Poppenhusen, Johnston, Thompson & Raymond (which, in the 1960s, would become Jenner & Block
Jenner & Block
Jenner & Block is a U.S. law firm with offices in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC. Approximately 450 attorneys serve a wide range of clients in corporate litigation, business transactions, and in the public sector. Jerold S. Solovy was the longtime Chair of the firm, but on Sept...

). Stevens was admitted to the bar
Admission to the bar in the United States
In the United States, admission to the bar is the granting of permission by a particular court system to a lawyer to practice law in that system. Each U.S. state and similar jurisdiction has its own court system and sets its own rules for bar admission , which can lead to different admission...

 in 1949. He determined that he would not stay long at the Poppenhusen firm after he was docked a day's pay for taking the day off to travel to Springfield
Springfield, Illinois
Springfield is the third and current capital of the US state of Illinois and the county seat of Sangamon County with a population of 117,400 , making it the sixth most populated city in the state and the second most populated Illinois city outside of the Chicago Metropolitan Area...

 to swear his oath of admission. During his time at the Poppenhusen firm, Stevens began his practice in antitrust law.

In 1951, he returned to Washington, D.C. to serve as Associate Counsel to the Subcommittee on the Study of Monopoly Power of the Judiciary Committee
United States House Committee on the Judiciary
The U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary, also called the House Judiciary Committee, is a standing committee of the United States House of Representatives. It is charged with overseeing the administration of justice within the federal courts, administrative agencies and Federal law enforcement...

 of the U.S. House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

. During this time, the subcommittee worked on several highly publicized investigation concerns in many industries, most notably Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball is the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada, consisting of teams that play in the National League and the American League...

.

In 1952, Stevens returned to Chicago and, together with two other young lawyers he had worked with at the Poppenhusen firm, formed his own law firm, Rothschild, Stevens, Barry & Myers. They soon developed a successful practice, with Stevens continuing to focus on antitrust
Antitrust
The United States antitrust law is a body of laws that prohibits anti-competitive behavior and unfair business practices. Antitrust laws are intended to encourage competition in the marketplace. These competition laws make illegal certain practices deemed to hurt businesses or consumers or both,...

 cases. His growing expertise in antitrust law led to an invitation to teach the "Competition and Monopoly" course at the University of Chicago Law School
University of Chicago Law School
The University of Chicago Law School was founded in 1902 as the graduate school of law at the University of Chicago and is among the most prestigious and selective law schools in the world. The U.S. News & World Report currently ranks it fifth among U.S...

, and from 1953 to 1955, he was a member of the Attorney General's
United States Attorney General
The United States Attorney General is the head of the United States Department of Justice concerned with legal affairs and is the chief law enforcement officer of the United States government. The attorney general is considered to be the chief lawyer of the U.S. government...

 National Committee to Study Antitrust Law. At the same time, Stevens was making a name for himself as a first-rate antitrust litigator and was involved in a number of trials. He was widely regarded by colleagues as an extraordinarily capable and impressive lawyer with a fantastic memory and analytical ability, and authored a number of influential works on antitrust law.

In 1969, the Greenberg Commission, appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court to investigate Sherman Skolnick
Sherman Skolnick
Sherman Skolnick was a Chicago-based activist.At the age of six, Skolnick was paralyzed by polio, and he used a wheelchair for the rest of his life....

's corruption allegations leveled at former Chief Justice Ray Klingbiel
Ray Klingbiel
Ray I. Klingbiel was the Chief Justice of Illinois in 1956–57, and again from 1964 to 1967. In 1969, while Klingbiel was still sitting on the Supreme Court of Illinois, a major Illinois scandal erupted when conspiracy theorist Sherman Skolnick revealed that Klingbiel and Chief Justice Roy J....

 and current Chief Justice Roy J. Solfisburg, Jr., named Stevens as their counsel, meaning that he essentially served as the commission's special prosecutor
Special prosecutor
A special prosecutor generally is a lawyer from outside the government appointed by an attorney general or, in the United States, by Congress to investigate a government official for misconduct while in office. A reasoning for such an appointment is that the governmental branch or agency may have...

. The Commission was widely thought to be a whitewash, but Stevens proved them wrong by vigorously prosecuting the justices, forcing them from office in the end. As a result of the prominence he gained during the Greenberg Commission, Stevens became Second Vice President of the Chicago Bar Association
Chicago Bar Association
Founded in 1874, the Chicago Bar Association is a voluntary bar association with over 20,000 members. Like other bar associations, it concerns itself with professional ethics, networking among members, and continuing legal education. It is located adjacent to the John Marshall Law School in the...

 in 1970.

Judicial career, 1970–2010


Stevens's role in the Greenberg Commission catapulted him to prominence and was largely responsible for President Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

's decision to appoint Stevens as a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit is a federal court with appellate jurisdiction over the courts in the following districts:* Central District of Illinois* Northern District of Illinois...

 on November 20, 1970.

President Gerald Ford
Gerald Ford
Gerald Rudolph "Jerry" Ford, Jr. was the 38th President of the United States, serving from 1974 to 1977, and the 40th Vice President of the United States serving from 1973 to 1974...

 then nominated him as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court in 1975 to replace Justice William O. Douglas
William O. Douglas
William Orville Douglas was an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. With a term lasting 36 years and 209 days, he is the longest-serving justice in the history of the Supreme Court...

, who had recently retired, and he took his seat December 19, 1975, after being confirmed 98–0 by the Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

.

When Harry Blackmun
Harry Blackmun
Harold Andrew Blackmun was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1970 until 1994. He is best known as the author of Roe v. Wade.- Early years and professional career :...

 retired in 1994, Stevens became the senior Associate Justice and thus assumed the administrative duties of the Court whenever the post of Chief Justice of the United States
Chief Justice of the United States
The Chief Justice of the United States is the head of the United States federal court system and the chief judge of the Supreme Court of the United States. The Chief Justice is one of nine Supreme Court justices; the other eight are the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States...

 was vacant or the Chief Justice was unable to perform his duties. Stevens performed the duties of Chief Justice in September 2005, between the death of Chief Justice William Rehnquist
William Rehnquist
William Hubbs Rehnquist was an American lawyer, jurist, and political figure who served as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States and later as the 16th Chief Justice of the United States...

 and the swearing-in of new Chief Justice John Roberts, and presided over oral arguments on a number of occasions when the Chief Justice was ill or recused. Also in September 2005 Stevens was honored with a Symposium by Fordham Law School for his 30 years on the Supreme Court, and President Ford wrote a letter stating his continued pride in appointing him.

In a 2005 speech, Stevens stressed the importance of "learning on the job"; for example, during his tenure on the Court, Stevens changed his views on affirmative action
Affirmative action
Affirmative action refers to policies that take factors including "race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or national origin" into consideration in order to benefit an underrepresented group, usually as a means to counter the effects of a history of discrimination.-Origins:The term...

 (initially opposed), as well as on other issues.

As his seniority grew in the closing decade of the Rehnquist
William Rehnquist
William Hubbs Rehnquist was an American lawyer, jurist, and political figure who served as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States and later as the 16th Chief Justice of the United States...

 court, Stevens was often the senior justice on one side of a split decision and thereby entitled to assign the writing of the opinion. He almost always wrote a dissenting opinion when in dissent and wrote concurring opinions more often than most other justices historically. Additionally, he participated actively in questioning during oral arguments. Stevens was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
American Academy of Arts and Sciences
The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is an independent policy research center that conducts multidisciplinary studies of complex and emerging problems. The Academy’s elected members are leaders in the academic disciplines, the arts, business, and public affairs.James Bowdoin, John Adams, and...

 in 2008.
On January 20, 2009, Stevens administered the oath of office
Oath of office
An oath of office is an oath or affirmation a person takes before undertaking the duties of an office, usually a position in government or within a religious body, although such oaths are sometimes required of officers of other organizations...

 to Vice President Joe Biden
Joe Biden
Joseph Robinette "Joe" Biden, Jr. is the 47th and current Vice President of the United States, serving under President Barack Obama...

 per Biden's request. It is customary for the Vice President to be inaugurated by the person of their choice; Vice President Al Gore
Al Gore
Albert Arnold "Al" Gore, Jr. served as the 45th Vice President of the United States , under President Bill Clinton. He was the Democratic Party's nominee for President in the 2000 U.S. presidential election....

 chose to be sworn in by Justice Byron White
Byron White
Byron Raymond "Whizzer" White won fame both as a football halfback and as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Appointed to the court by President John F. Kennedy in 1962, he served until his retirement in 1993...

 in 1993 and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Ruth Joan Bader Ginsburg is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Ginsburg was appointed by President Bill Clinton and took the oath of office on August 10, 1993. She is the second female justice and the first Jewish female justice.She is generally viewed as belonging to...

 in 1997 while Vice President Dick Cheney
Dick Cheney
Richard Bruce "Dick" Cheney served as the 46th Vice President of the United States , under George W. Bush....

 was sworn in by Chief Justice William Rehnquist
William Rehnquist
William Hubbs Rehnquist was an American lawyer, jurist, and political figure who served as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States and later as the 16th Chief Justice of the United States...

 in 2001 and U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert
Dennis Hastert
John Dennis "Denny" Hastert was the 59th Speaker of the House serving from 1999 to 2007. He represented as a Republican for twenty years, 1987 to 2007.He is the longest-serving Republican Speaker in history...

 in 2005.

On April 9, 2010, Stevens announced his intention to retire from the Court; he subsequently retired on June 29 of that year.

Tenure and age


Stevens retired as the third-longest-serving justice in the history of the Court with 34 years, six months service. The longest-serving is his immediate predecessor, Justice William O. Douglas
William O. Douglas
William Orville Douglas was an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. With a term lasting 36 years and 209 days, he is the longest-serving justice in the history of the Supreme Court...

, who served 36 and a half years. Stevens is also the second-oldest justice, aged 90 years and two months at retirement, in the Court's history behind Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. was an American jurist who served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1902 to 1932...

, who retired at the age of 90 years and 10 months.

Judicial philosophy


On the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, John Paul Stevens had a moderately conservative record. Early in his tenure on the Supreme Court, Stevens had a relatively moderate voting record. He voted to reinstate capital punishment in the United States
Capital punishment in the United States
Capital punishment in the United States, in practice, applies only for aggravated murder and more rarely for felony murder. Capital punishment was a penalty at common law, for many felonies, and was enforced in all of the American colonies prior to the Declaration of Independence...

 and opposed race-based admissions programs such as the program at issue in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke
Regents of the University of California v. Bakke
Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, was a landmark decision of the Supreme Court of the United States that ruled unconstitutional the admission process of the Medical School at the University of California at Davis, which set aside 16 of the 100 seats for African American...

, . But on the more conservative Rehnquist
William Rehnquist
William Hubbs Rehnquist was an American lawyer, jurist, and political figure who served as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States and later as the 16th Chief Justice of the United States...

 Court, Stevens joined the more liberal Justices on issues such as abortion
Abortion
Abortion is defined as the termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo prior to viability. An abortion can occur spontaneously, in which case it is usually called a miscarriage, or it can be purposely induced...

 rights, gay rights and federalism
Federalism
Federalism is a political concept in which a group of members are bound together by covenant with a governing representative head. The term "federalism" is also used to describe a system of the government in which sovereignty is constitutionally divided between a central governing authority and...

. His Segal–Cover score, a measure of the perceived liberalism/conservatism of Court members when they joined the Court, places him squarely in the ideological center of the Court. However, a 2003 statistical analysis of Supreme Court voting patterns found Stevens the most liberal member of the Court.

Stevens's jurisprudence has usually been characterized as idiosyncratic. Stevens, unlike most justices, usually writes the first drafts of his opinions himself and reviews petitions for certiorari
Certiorari
Certiorari is a type of writ seeking judicial review, recognized in U.S., Roman, English, Philippine, and other law. Certiorari is the present passive infinitive of the Latin certiorare...

 within his chambers instead of having his law clerk
Law clerk
A law clerk or a judicial clerk is a person who provides assistance to a judge in researching issues before the court and in writing opinions. Law clerks are not court clerks or courtroom deputies, who are administrative staff for the court. Most law clerks are recent law school graduates who...

s participate as part of the cert pool
Cert pool
The "cert. pool" is a mechanism by which the U.S. Supreme Court manages the influx of petitions for certiorari to the court. It was instituted in 1973, as one of the institutional reforms of Chief Justice Warren E...

. He is not an originalist
Originalism
In the context of United States constitutional interpretation, originalism is a principle of interpretation that tries to discover the original meaning or intent of the constitution. It is based on the principle that the judiciary is not supposed to create, amend or repeal laws but only to uphold...

 (such as fellow Justice Antonin Scalia
Antonin Scalia
Antonin Gregory Scalia is an American jurist who serves as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. As the longest-serving justice on the Court, Scalia is the Senior Associate Justice...

) nor a pragmatist (such as Judge Richard Posner
Richard Posner
Richard Allen Posner is an American jurist, legal theorist, and economist who is currently a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago and a Senior Lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School...

), nor does he pronounce himself a cautious liberal (such as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Ruth Joan Bader Ginsburg is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Ginsburg was appointed by President Bill Clinton and took the oath of office on August 10, 1993. She is the second female justice and the first Jewish female justice.She is generally viewed as belonging to...

). He has been considered part of the liberal bloc of the Court since the mid-1980s and he has been dubbed the "Chief Justice of the Liberal Supreme Court", though he publicly called himself a judicial conservative in 2007.

In 1985's Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Center
City of Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Center, Inc.
City of Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Center, Inc., 473 U.S. 432 , was a U.S. Supreme Court case involving discrimination against the mentally retarded....

, , Stevens argued against the Supreme Court's famous "strict scrutiny
Strict scrutiny
Strict scrutiny is the most stringent standard of judicial review used by United States courts. It is part of the hierarchy of standards that courts use to weigh the government's interest against a constitutional right or principle. The lesser standards are rational basis review and exacting or...

" doctrine for laws involving "suspect classifications," putting forth the view that all classifications should be evaluated on the basis of the "rational basis" test as to whether they could have been enacted by an "impartial legislature". In Burnham v. Superior Court of California
Burnham v. Superior Court of California
Burnham v. Superior Court of California, County of Marin, was a United States Supreme Court case concerning the transient jurisdiction of a forum state. All nine justices were unanimous concerning the judgment, but the Court issued a fractured decision...

, , Stevens demonstrated his independence with a characteristically pithy concurrence.

Stevens was once an impassioned critic of affirmative action
Affirmative action
Affirmative action refers to policies that take factors including "race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or national origin" into consideration in order to benefit an underrepresented group, usually as a means to counter the effects of a history of discrimination.-Origins:The term...

; in addition to the 1978 decision in Bakke, he dissented in the case of Fullilove v. Klutznick
Fullilove v. Klutznick
Fullilove v. Klutznick, 448 U.S. 448 , was a case in which the United States Supreme Court held that the U.S. Congress could constitutionally use its spending power to remedy past discrimination...

, , which upheld a minority set-aside program. He shifted his position over the years and voted to uphold the affirmative action
Affirmative action
Affirmative action refers to policies that take factors including "race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or national origin" into consideration in order to benefit an underrepresented group, usually as a means to counter the effects of a history of discrimination.-Origins:The term...

 program at the University of Michigan Law School
University of Michigan Law School
The University of Michigan Law School is the law school of the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor. Founded in 1859, the school has an enrollment of about 1,200 students, most of whom are seeking Juris Doctor or Master of Laws degrees, although the school also offers a Doctor of Juridical...

 challenged in 2003's Grutter v. Bollinger
Grutter v. Bollinger
Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306 , was a case in which the United States Supreme Court upheld the affirmative action admissions policy of the University of Michigan Law School...

, .

Stevens wrote the majority opinion in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld
Hamdan v. Rumsfeld
Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, 548 U.S. 557 , is a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that military commissions set up by the Bush administration to try detainees at Guantanamo Bay lack "the power to proceed because its structures and procedures violate both the Uniform Code of Military...

in 2006, in which he held that certain military commissions had been improperly constituted.


Freedom of speech


Stevens's views on obscenity under the First Amendment have changed over the years. Initially quite critical of constitutional protection for obscenity, rejecting a challenge to Detroit zoning ordinances that barred adult theaters in designated areas in 1976's Young v. American Mini Theatres
Young v. American Mini Theatres
Young v. American Mini Theatres, 427 U.S. 50 is a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States upheld a city ordinance of Detroit, Michigan requiring dispersal of adult businesses throughout the city....

, , ("[E]ven though we recognize that the First Amendment will not tolerate the total suppression of erotic materials that have some arguably artistic value, it is manifest that society's interest in protecting this type of expression is of a wholly different, and lesser, magnitude than the interest in untrammeled political debate"), Stevens now adheres firmly to a libertarian free speech approach on obscenity issues, voting to strike down a federal law regulating online obscene content considered "harmful to minors" in 2002's ACLU v. Ashcroft
American Civil Liberties Union v. Ashcroft (2002)
Ashc, 535 U.S. 564 was a 2002 United States legal court case involving the American Civil Liberties Union and the United States government...

, , which in a dissenting opinion Stevens argued that while "[a]s a parent, grandparent, and great-grandparent", he endorsed the legislative goal of protecting children from pornography "without reservation": "As a judge, I must confess to a growing sense of unease when the interest in protecting children from prurient materials is invoked as a justification for using criminal regulation of speech as a substitute for, or a simple backup to, adult oversight of children's viewing."

Perhaps the most personal and unusual feature of his jurisprudence is his continual referencing of World War II in his opinions, which Stevens often cites in an attempt to appeal to shared patriotic, American values. For example, Stevens, a World War II veteran, was visibly angered by William Kunstler
William Kunstler
William Moses Kunstler was an American self-described "radical lawyer" and civil rights activist, known for his controversial clients...

's flippant defense of flag-burning in oral argument in 1989's Texas v. Johnson
Texas v. Johnson
Texas v. Johnson, , was an important decision by the Supreme Court of the United States that invalidated prohibitions on desecrating the American flag enforced in 48 of the 50 states. Justice William Brennan wrote for a five-justice majority in holding that the defendant's act of flag burning was...

, and voted to uphold a prohibition on flag-burning against a First Amendment
First Amendment to the United States Constitution
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights. The amendment prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering...

 argument. Wrote Stevens, "The ideas of liberty and equality have been an irresistible force in motivating leaders like Patrick Henry
Patrick Henry
Patrick Henry was an orator and politician who led the movement for independence in Virginia in the 1770s. A Founding Father, he served as the first and sixth post-colonial Governor of Virginia from 1776 to 1779 and subsequently, from 1784 to 1786...

, Susan B. Anthony
Susan B. Anthony
Susan Brownell Anthony was a prominent American civil rights leader who played a pivotal role in the 19th century women's rights movement to introduce women's suffrage into the United States. She was co-founder of the first Women's Temperance Movement with Elizabeth Cady Stanton as President...

, and Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

, schoolteachers like Nathan Hale
Nathan Hale
Nathan Hale was a soldier for the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. He volunteered for an intelligence-gathering mission in New York City but was captured by the British...

 and Booker T. Washington
Booker T. Washington
Booker Taliaferro Washington was an American educator, author, orator, and political leader. He was the dominant figure in the African-American community in the United States from 1890 to 1915...

, the Philippine Scouts
Philippine Scouts
The Philippine Scouts was a military organization of the United States Army from 1901 until the end of World War II. Made up of native Filipinos assigned to the United States Army Philippine Department, these troops were generally enlisted and under the command of American officers, however, a...

 who fought at Bataan
Bataan
Bataan is a province of the Philippines occupying the whole of the Bataan Peninsula on Luzon. The province is part of the Central Luzon region. The capital of Bataan is Balanga City and it is bordered by the provinces of Zambales and Pampanga to the north...

, and the soldiers who scaled the bluff at Omaha Beach
Omaha Beach
Omaha Beach is the code name for one of the five sectors of the Allied invasion of German-occupied France in the Normandy landings on 6 June 1944, during World War II...

. If those ideas are worth fighting for – and our history demonstrates that they are – it cannot be true that the flag that uniquely symbolizes their power is not itself worthy of protection from unnecessary desecration."

Stevens generally supports students' right to free speech in public schools. He wrote sharply worded dissents in Bethel v. Fraser, and Morse v. Frederick, , two decisions that restricted students' freedom of speech. However, he joined the court's ruling on Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier
Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier
Hazelwood School District et al. v. Kuhlmeier et al., was a decision by the Supreme Court of the United States, which held that public school curricular student newspapers that have not been established as forums for student expression are subject to a lower level of First Amendment protection...

, that upheld a principal's censorship of a student newspaper
Student newspaper
A student newspaper is a newspaper run by students of a university, high school, middle school, or other school. These papers traditionally cover local and, primarily, school or university news....

.

Establishment Clause


In Wallace v. Jaffree
Wallace v. Jaffree
Wallace v. Jaffree, , was a United States Supreme Court case deciding on the issue of silent school prayer.An Alabama law authorized teachers to set aside one minute at the start of each day for a moment of "silent meditation or voluntary prayer," and sometimes the teacher of the classroom asked...

, , striking down an Alabama statute mandating a minute of silence in public schools "for meditation or silent prayer", Stevens wrote the opinion for a majority that included Justices William Brennan
William J. Brennan, Jr.
William Joseph Brennan, Jr. was an American jurist who served as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court from 1956 to 1990...

, Thurgood Marshall
Thurgood Marshall
Thurgood Marshall was an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, serving from October 1967 until October 1991...

, Harry Blackmun
Harry Blackmun
Harold Andrew Blackmun was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1970 until 1994. He is best known as the author of Roe v. Wade.- Early years and professional career :...

, and Lewis Powell. He affirmed that the Establishment Clause
Establishment Clause of the First Amendment
The Establishment Clause is the first of several pronouncements in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, stating, Together with the Free Exercise Clause The Establishment Clause is the first of several pronouncements in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution,...

 is binding on the States via the Fourteenth Amendment
Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted on July 9, 1868, as one of the Reconstruction Amendments.Its Citizenship Clause provides a broad definition of citizenship that overruled the Dred Scott v...

, and that: "Just as the right to speak and the right to refrain from speaking are complementary components of a broader concept of individual freedom of mind, so also the individual's freedom to choose his own creed is the counterpart of his right to refrain from accepting the creed of the majority. At one time, it was thought that this right merely proscribed the preference of one Christian sect over another, but would not require equal respect for the conscience of the infidel, the atheist, or the adherent of a non-Christian faith such as Islam or Judaism. But when the underlying principle has been examined in the crucible of litigation, the Court has unambiguously concluded that the individual freedom of conscience protected by the First Amendment embraces the right to select any religious faith or none at all."

Stevens wrote a dissent in Van Orden v. Perry
Van Orden v. Perry
Van Orden v. Perry, 545 U.S. 677 was a case decided by the Supreme Court of the United States of America, involving whether a display of the Ten Commandments on a monument given to the government at the Texas State Capitol in Austin violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.In a...

, , which was joined by Justice Ginsburg; he argued that the ten commandments displayed in the Texas Capitol grounds transmitted the message: "This State endorses the divine code of the 'Judeo-Christian' God." The Establishment Clause, he wrote, "at the very least [...] has created a strong presumption against the display of religious symbols on public property", and that it
"demands religious neutrality – Government may not exercise preference for one religious faith over another." This includes a prohibition against enacting laws or imposing requirements that aid all religions as against unbelievers, or aid religions that are based on a belief in the existence of God against those founded on different principles.

Commerce clause and states' rights


When interpreting the interstate commerce clause, Stevens consistently sided with the federal government
Federal government of the United States
The federal government of the United States is the national government of the constitutional republic of fifty states that is the United States of America. The federal government comprises three distinct branches of government: a legislative, an executive and a judiciary. These branches and...

. He dissented from United States v. Lopez
United States v. Lopez
United States v. Alfonso Lopez, Jr., was the first United States Supreme Court case since the New Deal to set limits to Congress's power under the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution.-Background:...

, and United States v. Morrison
United States v. Morrison
United States v. Morrison, is a United States Supreme Court decision which held that parts of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 were unconstitutional because they exceeded congressional power under the Commerce Clause and under section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution.-...

, , two prominent cases in which the Rehnquist
William Rehnquist
William Hubbs Rehnquist was an American lawyer, jurist, and political figure who served as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States and later as the 16th Chief Justice of the United States...

 court changed direction by holding that Congress had exceeded its constitutional power under the commerce clause. He then authored Gonzales v. Raich
Gonzales v. Raich
Gonzales v. Raich , 545 U.S. 1 , was a decision by the United States Supreme Court ruling that under the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution, the United States Congress may criminalize the production and use of home-grown cannabis even where states approve its use for medicinal...

, , which permits the federal government to arrest, prosecute, and imprison patients who use medical marijuana regardless of whether they are using the medicine legally under state law.

Fourth Amendment


Stevens has a generally liberal voting record on the Fourth Amendment
Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution is the part of the Bill of Rights which guards against unreasonable searches and seizures, along with requiring any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause...

, which deals with search and seizure
Search and seizure
Search and seizure is a legal procedure used in many civil law and common law legal systems whereby police or other authorities and their agents, who suspect that a crime has been committed, do a search of a person's property and confiscate any relevant evidence to the crime.Some countries have...

. Stevens authored the majority opinion in Arizona v. Gant
Arizona v. Gant
Arizona v. Gant, 556 U.S. 332 , was a United States Supreme Court decision which held that the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution requires law enforcement officers to demonstrate an actual and continuing threat to their safety posed by an arrestee, or a need to preserve evidence...

, which held that "police may search a vehicle incident to a recent occupant's arrest only if the arrestee is within reaching distance of the compartment at the time of the search or it is reasonable to believe the vehicle contains evidence of the offense of arrest." He dissented in New Jersey v. T.L.O., and Vernonia School District 47J v. Acton
Vernonia School District 47J v. Acton
Vernonia School District 47J v. Acton, was a U.S. Supreme Court decision which upheld the constitutionality of random drug testing regimen implemented by the local public schools in Vernonia, Oregon. Under that regimen, student athletes were required to submit to random drug testing before being...

, , both involving searches in schools. He was a dissenter in Oliver v. United States
Oliver v. United States
Oliver v. United States, 466 U.S. 170 , is a United States Supreme Court decision relating to the open fields doctrine limiting the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution....

, , a case relating to the open fields doctrine
Open fields doctrine
The open fields doctrine is a U.S. legal doctrine created judicially for purposes of evaluating claims of an unreasonable search by the government in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S...

. However, in United States v. Montoya De Hernandez
United States v. Montoya De Hernandez
United States v. Montoya De Hernandez, 473 U.S. 531 , was a case appealed from the Ninth Circuit to the Supreme Court of the United States regarding balloon swallowing....

, , he sided with the government, and he was the author of United States v. Ross
United States v. Ross
United States v. Ross, 456 U.S. 798 , was a search and seizure case argued before the Supreme Court of the United States. The high court was asked to decide if a legal warrantless search of an automobile allows closed containers found in the vehicle to be searched as well...

, , which permits the police to search closed containers found in the course of searching a vehicle. He also authored the dissent in Kyllo v. United States
Kyllo v. United States
Kyllo v. United States, , held that the use of a thermal imaging device from a public vantage point to monitor the radiation of heat from a person's home was a "search" within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, and thus required a warrant...

, , which held that the use of thermal imaging requires a warrant.

In a 2009 paper Ward Farnsworth
Ward Farnsworth
Ward Farnsworth is a law professor at Boston University and author of books andacademic articles on a range of subjects.Farnsworth graduated with high honors from University of Chicago Law School in 1994, where he served on the law review and was Hinton moot court co-champion. He served as a law...

 argues that Stevens's "dissents against type" (in Stevens's case, votes in dissent in favor of the government's position and against the accused, such as the one in Kyllo) suggest that while Stevens "believes strongly in laying out resources for the sake of accuracy and opportunities to protest an unfair trial, [he is] not nearly as concerned about restraining the government at the front end of the process, when it is gathering evidence – for the costs of invaded rights then are to liberty rather than to accuracy."

Death penalty


Stevens joined the majority in Gregg v. Georgia
Gregg v. Georgia
Gregg v. Georgia, Proffitt v. Florida, Jurek v. Texas, Woodson v. North Carolina, and Roberts v. Louisiana, 428 U.S. 153 , reaffirmed the United States Supreme Court's acceptance of the use of the death penalty in the United States, upholding, in particular, the death sentence imposed on Troy Leon...

, , which overruled Furman v. Georgia
Furman v. Georgia
Furman v. Georgia, was a United States Supreme Court decision that ruled on the requirement for a degree of consistency in the application of the death penalty. The case led to a de facto moratorium on capital punishment throughout the United States, which came to an end when Gregg v. Georgia was...

, and again allowed the use of the death penalty in the United States. In later cases such as Thompson v. Oklahoma
Thompson v. Oklahoma
Thompson v. Oklahoma, 487 U.S. 815 , was the first case since the moratorium on capital punishment was lifted in the United States in which the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the death sentence of a minor on grounds of "cruel and unusual punishment."...

, and Atkins v. Virginia
Atkins v. Virginia
Atkins v. Virginia, , is a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States ruled 6-3 that executing the mentally retarded violates the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishments.-The case:...

,
, Stevens held that the Constitution forbids the use of the death penalty in certain circumstances. Stevens opposed using the death penalty on juvenile offenders; he dissented in Stanford v. Kentucky
Stanford v. Kentucky
Stanford v. Kentucky, , was a United States Supreme Court case that sanctioned the imposition of the death penalty on offenders who were at least 16 years of age at the time of the crime. This decision came one year after Thompson v...

, and joined the Court's majority in Roper v. Simmons
Roper v. Simmons
Roper v. Simmons, was a decision in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that it is unconstitutional to impose capital punishment for crimes committed while under the age of 18. The 5-4 decision overruled the Court's prior ruling upholding such sentences on offenders above or at the...

, , overturning Stanford. In Baze v. Rees
Baze v. Rees
Baze v. Rees, 553 U.S. 35 , was a United States Supreme Court case. The court agreed to hear the appeal of two men, Ralph Baze and Thomas Bowling, who were sentenced to death in Kentucky. The men argue that executing them by lethal injection would violate the 8th Amendment prohibition of cruel and...

, , Stevens voted with the majority in upholding Kentucky's method of lethal injection because he felt bound by stare decisis
Stare decisis
Stare decisis is a legal principle by which judges are obliged to respect the precedents established by prior decisions...

. However, he opined that "state-sanctioned killing is...becoming more and more anachronistic" and agreed with former Justice Byron White
Byron White
Byron Raymond "Whizzer" White won fame both as a football halfback and as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Appointed to the court by President John F. Kennedy in 1962, he served until his retirement in 1993...

's assertion that "the needless extinction of life with only marginal contributions to any discernible social or public purposes...would be patently excessive" in violation of the Eighth Amendment
Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution is the part of the United States Bill of Rights which prohibits the federal government from imposing excessive bail, excessive fines or cruel and unusual punishments. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that this amendment's Cruel and Unusual...

 (quoting from White's concurrence in Furman). Soon after his vote in Baze, Stevens told a Sixth Circuit
United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is a federal court with appellate jurisdiction over the district courts in the following districts:* Eastern District of Kentucky* Western District of Kentucky...

 conference that one of the drugs (pancuronium bromide
Pancuronium
Pancuronium is a muscle relaxant with various purposes. It is the second of three drugs administered during most lethal injections in the United States.- Mode of action :...

) in the three-drug cocktail used by Kentucky to execute death row inmates is prohibited in Kentucky for euthanizing animals. He questioned whether Kentucky Derby second-place finisher Eight Belles
Eight Belles
Eight Belles was a thoroughbred racehorse owned by Rick Porter's Fox Hill Farms. She finished second to winner Big Brown in the 134th running of the Kentucky Derby held at Churchill Downs, a race run by only thirty-nine fillies in the past...

 died more humanely than those on death row. He explained that his death penalty decisions were influenced, in part, by an increasing awareness through DNA testing of the fallibility of death sentences, and the fact that death-qualified juries come with a set of biases. Stevens, at the time of his opinion in Baze, was one of four Justices (the others being Brennan, Marshall
Thurgood Marshall
Thurgood Marshall was an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, serving from October 1967 until October 1991...

 and Blackmun
Harry Blackmun
Harold Andrew Blackmun was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1970 until 1994. He is best known as the author of Roe v. Wade.- Early years and professional career :...

) who had concluded that post-Gregg capital punishment is unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment. After his retirement, Stevens stated that his vote in Gregg was the only vote he regretted.

Chevron


In 1984, Stevens authored the majority opinion in Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc.
Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc.
Chevron U.S.A. Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837 , was a case in which the United States Supreme Court set forth the legal test for determining whether to grant deference to a government agency's interpretation of a statute which it administers...

, , the most cited opinion in the history of the United States Supreme Court. The opinion stands for how courts review administrative agencies' interpretations of their organic statutes. If the organic statute unambiguously expresses the will of Congress, the court enforces the legislature's intent. If the statute is unclear (and is thus thought to reflect a Congressional delegation of power to the agency to interpret the statute), and the agency interpretation has the force of law, courts defer to an agency's interpretation of the statute unless that interpretation is deemed to be "arbitrary, capricious, or manifestly contrary to the statute." This doctrine is now generally referred to as "Chevron deference" among legal practitioners.

Unlike some other members of the court, Stevens has been consistently willing to find organic statutes unambiguous and thus overturn agency interpretations of those statutes. (See his majority opinion in Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Cardoza-Fonseca
Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Cardoza-Fonseca
Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Cardoza-Fonseca, , decided that the standard for withholding of removal set in INS v. Stevic, , was too high a standard for applicants for asylum to satisfy...

, , and his dissent in Young v. Community Nutrition Institute, .) Although Chevron has come to stand for the proposition of deference to agency interpretations, Stevens, the author of the opinion, has been less willing to defer to agencies than the rest of his colleagues on the Court.

Crawford v. Marion County Election Board


Stevens wrote the lead opinion in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board
Crawford v. Marion County Election Board
Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, 553 U.S. 181 was a United States Supreme Court case holding that an Indiana law requiring voters to provide photo IDs did not violate the Constitution of the United States.-Background:...

, a case where the Court upheld the right of states to require an official photo identification card to help ensure that only citizens vote. Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kennedy joined this opinion, and Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito agreed with them on the outcome. Edward B. Foley, an election law expert at Ohio State University
Ohio State University
The Ohio State University, commonly referred to as Ohio State, is a public research university located in Columbus, Ohio. It was originally founded in 1870 as a land-grant university and is currently the third largest university campus in the United States...

, said the Stevens opinion might represent an effort to "depoliticize election law cases." Stevens's vote in Crawford and his agreement with the Court's conservative majority in two other cases during the 2007–2008 term (Medellin v. Texas
Medellín v. Texas
Medellín v. Texas, 552 U.S. 491 is a United States Supreme Court decision which held that while an international treaty may constitute an international commitment, it is not binding domestic law unless Congress has enacted statutes implementing it or unless the treaty itself is "self-executing";...

, and Baze v. Rees
Baze v. Rees
Baze v. Rees, 553 U.S. 35 , was a United States Supreme Court case. The court agreed to hear the appeal of two men, Ralph Baze and Thomas Bowling, who were sentenced to death in Kentucky. The men argue that executing them by lethal injection would violate the 8th Amendment prohibition of cruel and...

) has led University of Oklahoma
University of Oklahoma
The University of Oklahoma is a coeducational public research university located in Norman, Oklahoma. Founded in 1890, it existed in Oklahoma Territory near Indian Territory for 17 years before the two became the state of Oklahoma. the university had 29,931 students enrolled, most located at its...

 law professor and former Stevens clerk Joseph Thai to wonder if Stevens is "tacking back a little bit toward the center."

Bush v. Gore


In Bush v. Gore
Bush v. Gore
Bush v. Gore, , is the landmark United States Supreme Court decision on December 12, 2000, that effectively resolved the 2000 presidential election in favor of George W. Bush. Only eight days earlier, the United States Supreme Court had unanimously decided the closely related case of Bush v...

, , Stevens wrote a scathing dissent on the Court's ruling to stay the recount of votes in Florida during the 2000 presidential election. He believed that the holding displayed "an unstated lack of confidence in the impartiality and capacity of the state judges who would make the critical decisions if the vote count were to proceed." He continued, "[t]he endorsement of that position by the majority of this Court can only lend credence to the most cynical appraisal of the work of judges throughout the land. It is confidence in the men and women who administer the judicial system that is the true backbone of the rule of law. Time will one day heal the wound to that confidence that will be inflicted by today's decision. One thing, however, is certain. Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year's Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation's confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law."

Popular culture


Stevens was portrayed by the actor William Schallert
William Schallert
William Joseph Schallert is an American actor who has appeared in many films and in such television series as The Smurfs, The Rat Patrol, Gunsmoke, The Patty Duke Show, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, The Waltons, Bonanza, Leave It to Beaver, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Love, American Style, Get...

 in the film Recount
Recount (film)
Recount is a 2008 made-for-TV film about the 2000 Presidential election in the United States. The political drama was written by Danny Strong, directed by Jay Roach, and produced by Kevin Spacey, who also stars in the film....

. He was portrayed by David Grant Wright in two episodes of Boston Legal
Boston Legal
Boston Legal is an American legal dramedy created by David E. Kelley, which was produced in association with 20th Century Fox Television for the ABC...

 in which Alan Shore and Denny Crane appear before the Supreme Court.

According to an April 2009 article in the Wall Street Journal, Stevens "rendered an opinion on who wrote Shakespeare's plays", proclaiming himself an Oxfordian
Oxfordian theory of Shakespeare authorship
The Oxfordian theory of Shakespearean authorship proposes that Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford , wrote the plays and poems traditionally attributed to William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon. While a large majority of scholars reject all alternative candidates for authorship, popular...

, "that is, he believes the works ascribed to William Shakespeare actually were written by the 17th earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere." As a result, he was appointed Oxfordian of the Year by the Shakespeare Oxford Society. According to the article, Justices Scalia and Blackmun
Harry Blackmun
Harold Andrew Blackmun was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1970 until 1994. He is best known as the author of Roe v. Wade.- Early years and professional career :...

 shared Stevens's belief.

See also





External links




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