Patterico's Pontifications


John Paul Stevens (1920-2019)

Filed under: Law — DRJ @ 7:44 pm

[Headline from DRJ]

John Paul Stevens dies at 99:

John Paul Stevens, a moderate Republican and former antitrust lawyer from Chicago who evolved into a savvy and sometimes passionate leader of the Supreme Court’s liberal wing and became the third-longest-serving justice on the court before he retired in 2010, died July 16 at a hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He was 99.

The cause was complications from a stroke he suffered Monday, according to an announcement from the Supreme Court. The only justices who served longer were William O. Douglas, whom Justice Stevens replaced in 1975, and Stephen J. Field, a nominee of President Abraham Lincoln who served for much of the late 19th century.



21 Responses to “John Paul Stevens (1920-2019)”

  1. 99. Wow. Good run. Good work. Great life.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  2. He relied on the terrible, awful, no good Cruikshank case (1876) to support his dissent in McDonald v Chicago, in which he asserted that the earlier case had correctly denied the 2nd Amendment applied to the states. Cruikshank was most of the legal basis for Jim Crow, denying the protection of the Bill of Rights to those that states did not want to give those rights to, such as giving former slaves the rights of self-defense.

    Among other things, Cruikshank held that the lynching of dozens of Negroes by (allegedly) non-state actors could not be prosecuted by the feds, and the state was under no obligation to do so either.

    I can’t believe he and Thomas could speak after that.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  3. I won’t say “Good” because that would be wrong. But I might think it.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  4. Too bad he died. And too bad he didn’t resign from the SCOTUS 20 years ago. a terrible justice that we can blame on Jerry “Blockhead” Ford.

    rcocean (1a839e)

  5. He was pretty typical for a Republican in the wake of Watergate. Most people would not believe how far left the whole country was then. NIXON imposed wage & price controls and signed most of the big regulatory agencies into existence.

    Stevens was a fixed point as the GOP and the country moved rapidly to the right with Reagan and the reaffirmation of capitalism.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  6. Chicagoan. The last Justice not Ivy League, either undergrad or law school. University of Chicago and Northwestern Law School. Cubs fan, too.

    nk (dbc370)

  7. @5. No, ‘most people’ wouldn’t- because it wasn’t.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  8. @4. This is Stevens’ thread; not Scalia’s.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  9. There’s plenty of evidence that Stevens became more liberal over time.

    When Ford appointed him, his ideological “score” was only slightly less conservative than Clarence Thomas’s, and more conservative than Anthony Kennedy or Sandra O’Connor.

    Early in his term, he voted to reinstate capital punishment, and he opposed affirmative action discrimination in the famous Bakke decision.

    He began his career as an anti-trust lawyer, and gained notoriety for leading an investigation into corruption on the Illinois state supreme court.

    Dave (1bb933)

  10. I don’t know how “liberal” Kelo v. City of New London was, but I suppose that if Stephens’s majority included Kennedy, Souter, Breyer and Ginzburg, and the dissents included Thomas and Scalia, then it had to be didn’t it?

    nk (dbc370)

  11. From Stevens’ Bakke dissent (joined by Rehnquist and other conservatives) in 1978:

    “[t]he meaning of the Title VI ban on exclusion is crystal clear: Race cannot be the basis of excluding anyone from a federally funded program.”

    Unfortunately, 25 years later he had lost that clarity when he joined the majority in the wrongly-decided Grutter case.

    Dave (1bb933)

  12. He stayed in good health until just right about now.

    Sammy Finkelman (dec35d)

  13. In those 25 years, the legal clerisy went left, and only Scalia and Thomas and occassionally Alito stayed firm, hence Obamacare same sex marriage et al

    Narciso (09b0bf)

  14. “Retired Justice John Paul Stevens is lambasting the Supreme Court´s 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller decision broadening gun rights, calling it the “most clearly incorrect” ruling of his 35-year career on the high court. “Heller is unquestionably the most clearly incorrect decision that the court announced during my tenure on the bench,” Stevens, 99, wrote in his new memoir, The Making of a Justice. The retired justice penned the main dissent in the Heller case, which established the right to keep guns for self-defense in the home….

    ……In March 2018, he called for a repeal of the Second Amendment in an op-ed for the New York Times and has also advocated for a constitutional amendment to overrule the 2008 decision .”

    Started out good and then went off the rails. Thank goodness for Scalia.

    harkin (b0f43e)

  15. Longtime lurking reader, but first time poster.

    I had the great good fortune to work at the Supreme Court in the late 80s and early 90s, and had the opportunity to not only interact personally with Justice Stevens, but also watch him in dozens of oral arguments (a perk of working there). What I tell people about that time is that Justice Stevens was an amazing jurist, with a quick mind and a good sense of humor — just like Justice Scalia. They were two sides of the same coin in every sense of the phrase. To watch them duel with each other, touch for touch, while the poor lawyer standing at the podium could only agree with their points was a master class in the law and how to get your point across to everyone in the room. He did not have Justice Scalia’s fire, but he met him at every term. I truly believe that Justice Scalia could rightly be called the most brilliant mind on the Court in the last 50 years, but Stevens was his nearest equal. Regardless of his views (particularly those later in his career), the world is a sadder place without his wisdom and wit.

    Bigdaddyjp7983 (475b81)

  16. That’s a great first comment. I hope you decide to comment again.

    DRJ (3a8a8a)

  17. Ditto DRJ’s # 16.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  18. Thanks. I would, but people get way too touchy in here, lol. I enjoy both of your comments though.

    Bigdaddyjp7983 (475b81)

  19. Bigdaddy – I also say great comments.

    Touching on what you say about great minds (and hoping to catch you before you recede back into the hedges), do you have any opinion on which current justices may be continuing the legacy of brilliance from AS and JPS?

    harkin (b0f43e)

  20. kagan really hasn’t stepped up in the frankfurter role has she, and Roberts just swings on a pendulum,

    narciso (d1f714)

  21. I know that a lot of people are very down on the Chief because of some of the decisions he has joined. His joinders are definitely disappointing in the short term, but I remain very hopeful that he is playing a very, very long game regarding some pretty key issues (the reach of the Commerce Clause for example). I never met him, but know people who have spent long periods around him, and they indicate he is definitely in the Scalia/Stevens ballpark. Far closer than either CJ Burger or CJ Rehnquist (who were a politician and a steady workman, respectively)(and respectfully).

    Bigdaddyjp7983 (475b81)

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