Justice John Paul Stevens Had Some Things to Say Before He Died

Stevens’s “The Making of a Justice” is both a personal memoir and a meditation on the law.

Comments: 14

  1. In the late 60's there was a case before the Supreme Court concerning a man who had kidnapped a girl and raped and then killed her and put her dead body in his trunk. He was stopped by a policeman for a broken taillight and was acting very odd so the policeman asked him to open his trunk, when he refused, the policeman forced the trunk open and found the body of the dead girl. The driver appealed his conviction and it was overturned because the Police Officer violated the driver's rights. When I read that I wondered about the poor girl who was raped and killed and how her rights did not seem to matter. The man was arrested two years later, for he had gone on to rape and kill more girls. This time the conviction was not overturned. The Supreme Court and the Federal Courts have usurped too much power. Powers the Constitution never gave or meant for them to have. Unfortunately our legislators fail to do their duty and pass the necessary laws to make this a more fair and just country. The only people to blame for Gore's loss of Florida are the Democrats themselves. They failed to ask for a recount of the entire state at the very beginning. I would be interested to know if Justice Stevens thinks there should be limits on how long one can be a Federal Judge or a Supreme Court Justice - given he admit the fallibility of Judges and their need to adapt to the times.

  2. @John Brown In the late sixties, I took an exam in law school which had a question just like the body in the trunk. I don't recall my answer but I was flummoxed and I'm sure it didn't help my grade. At least now I know how the professor came up with the situation. If you have a citation or name of the case, I would love to see it.

  3. @John Brown Have you heard about the 4th amendment? Right to privacy and from unwarranted searches? Sometimes a person who committed a crime can benefit from this CONSTITUTIONAL amendment--which the courts are enforcing---so that we all have that protection. I am sorry for the murders and rape of this one particular person but happy that the 4th amendment --at least for now still protects us all from police busting your door down in the middle of the night.

  4. We sorely miss this great justice. trump is in the process of destroying what is left of the legitimacy of the Court. How many are still left who were there in Chicago in 1932 when the Babe 'called his shot' at Wrigley?

  5. I watched Justice Stevens with Stephen Colbert in 2012 and was quite impressed. He was sharp as tack, giving Colbert, as the then faux conservative, as good as he got. I am glad he is still healthy and well.

  6. Ms. Bazelon ends with saying the chances are slim that we will see a Republican appointee like him any time soon. There may be some Democratic appointees who are in his league. President Obama appointed two superb ones. That said, there will be few who grow as Justice Stevens has. And to publish at 99? It gives me hope at a time when I could do with all the hope I can get.

  7. Justice Stevens was not a "perfect" Supreme Court justice or human being. He would be the first to admit so. But his wisdom, scholarship, and compassion are in such stark relief from what the G.O.P. in the Senate and the Federalist Society want, and are getting, from the judiciary. Let's hope Mr. Justice Stevens lives long enough to see the Senate change, so there will be a hope that at least some of his ideas might come to pass.

  8. "It suffers from the burden of completism and the frustration of muffled drama. " Books do not suffer, they are inanimate objects. This column suffers because the reviewer spends too much time trying to impress us with words.

  9. I think it is unfortunate that a former Justice, in retirement, engages in what is essentially political commentary about key issues facing the Court. If he had wanted to participate in those deliberations, he should have stayed on the Court. His former position provides his views with perceived importance. Respect for the judicial process and the Court, in my opinion, should call for him to keep his views private.

  10. The USSC is just another institution ordinary citizens have lost faith in. It sits at the apex of a justice system that ignores the crimes of the rich and powerful, yet is a weapon aimed at the poor and powerless. Conservative justices in recent decisions have attacked our democracy, lowered the bar on political corruption and encouraged religious bigotry, while enabling gun owners to terrorize and militarize our society. Liberal justices, by virtue of acting collegiately and with decorum, in respect to their toxic colleagues, out of a misguided respect for tradition and civility, have encouraged this perversion of justice, by not angrily denouncing it.

  11. The man made a pact with the devil, wrecking whatever legacy he might have claimed. Lucky for him, he won't be around for the radioactive fallout, unlike my children and grandchildren. Epic failure.

  12. 99 and still kicking... and still with trenchant observations about US politics writ large. You grow up as a kid hearing about Brown v. Board of Ed, and other important decisions, and then you see SCOTUS devolve into the partisan panel that stopped the recount in Bush v. Gore. Interesting, too, to hear about Anthony Kennedy's lack of courage with regard to the 2nd amendment. He's not alone there, of course, but even Warren Burger commented on the ludicrous readings of that amendment. Kennedy's biggest error however has to do with his recent retirement -- and allowing Trump to name his replacement.

  13. The author’s sums up by noting that the chances are slim that we’ll see another Republican appointee like Justice Stevens any time soon. One could just as easily note that the chances are slim that we’ll ever see another Democratic appointee like Justice White. Presidents of both parties are increasingly appointing justices who are removed from the center and less likely to surprise us.

  14. Rest of SCOTUS seems milquetoast compared to Stevens. Too bad for us.