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Justice John Paul Stevens

Self Description

December 2005: "John Paul Stevens, Associate Justice, was born in Chicago, Illinois, April 20, 1920. He married Maryan Mulholland, and has four children—John Joseph (deceased), Kathryn, Elizabeth Jane, and Susan Roberta. He received an A.B. from the University of Chicago, and a J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law. He served in the United States Navy from 1942–1945, and was a law clerk to Justice Wiley Rutledge of the Supreme Court of the United States during the 1947 Term. He was admitted to law practice in Illinois in 1949. He was Associate Counsel to the Subcommittee on the Study of Monopoly Power of the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, 1951–1952, and a member of the Attorney General’s National Committee to Study Antitrust Law, 1953–1955. He was Second Vice President of the Chicago Bar Association in 1970. From 1970–1975, he served as a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. President Ford nominated him as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and he took his seat December 19, 1975."

Third-Party Descriptions

March 2012: '“The similarities between this case and Wickard are striking,” Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for five members of the court, including Justice Kennedy. “Here, too, Congress had a rational basis for concluding that leaving home-consumed marijuana outside federal control would similarly affect price and market conditions.”'

January 2011: 'In McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission (1995) the Supreme Court overturned a statute requiring any person who prints a notice or flyer promoting a candidate or an issue to identify the communication’s author by name. Justice John Paul Stevens, writing for the majority, grounded his opinion in an account of meaning he takes from an earlier case (First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti): “The inherent worth of . . . speech in terms of its capacity for informing the public does not depend upon the identity of its source, whether corporation, association, union, or individual.” Or, in other words, a writing or utterance says what it says independently of who happens to say it; the information conveyed does not vary with the identification of the speaker.'

June 2010: "During the campaign, groups that supported the law requested the names of those who signed the petition, citing Washington's public records laws. The signers persuaded a federal court to forbid the disclosure, saying it violated their constitutional rights. The Supreme Court, with Justice John Paul Stevens objecting, agreed that the injunction should remain in place while the high court considered the case."

May 2010: "It could also be difficult to win a reversal by the Supreme Court, where five of the nine justices supported giving habeas rights to detainees in the Guantánamo case. Among the narrow majority in that case was Justice John Paul Stevens, who is retiring."

April 2010: "Justices John Paul Stevens and Anthony M. Kennedy indicated that SWAT team members might be treated differently from other government employees because their records are often subject to disclosure in lawsuits or under California’s open-records law."

March 2010: 'Justices John Paul Stevens and Stephen G. Breyer, on the losing side in Heller, were unwilling to give up the fight. Stevens wondered if a limited Second Amendment right could be applied to the states, so that ownership in the home was protected, as opposed to "the right to parade around the streets with guns."'

February 2010: 'Justice Clarence Thomas objected to the 14-day period, saying the majority provided no justification for why that was a better fit for the Fifth Amendment's self-incrimination clause than "zero, 10 or 100 days." Justice John Paul Stevens did not agree to it, saying it was too short, especially if police had made no effort in the meantime to find the suspect a lawyer.'

June 2009: "The decision brought together an unusual coalition. Justice Scalia, one of the court’s most conservative members, was joined by the court’s more liberal wing of John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer."

June 2009: 'Justice Ginsburg, writing for herself and Justices John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter and Stephen G. Breyer, said the majority had underestimated the legitimate fear New Haven had of losing a disparate-impact suit. “Like the chess player who tries to win by sweeping the opponent’s pieces off the table,” she wrote of the majority opinion, “the court simply shuts from its sight the formidable obstacles New Haven would have faced.”'

April 2009: 'Justice John Paul Stevens, dissenting, wrote that not every use of a swear word connoted the same thing. “As any golfer who has watched his partner shank a short approach knows,” Justice Stevens wrote, “it would be absurd to accept the suggestion that the resultant four-letter word uttered on the golf course describes sex or excrement and is therefore indecent.”'

May 2009: 'Shell argued that it could not be held responsible for the spills because it did not qualify under the relevant part of the Superfund law, which applies to companies that “arranged for disposal” of hazardous substances. Justice John Paul Stevens, writing for the majority in the 8-to-1 decision, said the statutory language applied only when companies took “intentional steps to dispose of a hazardous substance.”'

November 2008: 'At one point, Justice John Paul Stevens sheepishly asked whether regulators should be able to consider as a factor whether an expletive is used in a "hilarious, very, very funny" way. "Some of these things," the 88-year-old justice confessed, "you can't help but laugh at."'

June 2008: 'A dissent by Justice John Paul Stevens asserted that the majority “would have us believe that over 200 years ago, the framers made a choice to limit the tools available to elected officials wishing to regulate civilian uses of weapons.” Joining him were Justices David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer.'

June 2008: '“The death penalty is not a proportional punishment for the rape of a child,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the court. He was joined by Justices John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer.'

June 2008: 'In a dissenting opinion, Justice John Paul Stevens objected that the majority “carves a novel exception out of state employees’ constitutional rights.” There is a “clear distinction between an exercise of discretion and an arbitrary decision,” he said.'

April 2008: "In an opinion concurring in the judgment, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the first time that he considers the death penalty unconstitutional. But he said he continues to respect Supreme Court precedents that have upheld capital punishment and wrote that the Kentucky petitioners failed to prove their case."

March 2008: 'The court's last substantial decision on broadcast indecency came in 1978, when justices in FCC v. Pacifica Foundation ruled against the broadcast of Carlin's monologue....the opinion by Justice John Paul Stevens for the splintered court stressed the narrowness of the decision and added: "We have not decided that an occasional expletive in either setting would justify any sanction."'

February 2008: 'Justice John Paul Stevens told Ms. Schertler that the government’s position in the case, Cuellar v. United States, No. 06-1456, seemed to make the concept of money laundering, as such, irrelevant. “Is this just a total wild goose chase?” the justice asked.'

January 2008: '"I'm terribly troubled by the fact that the second drug is what seems to cause all the risk of excruciating pain, and seems to be almost totally unnecessary" except to ensure that the execution appears peaceful, Justice John Paul Stevens said.'

January 2008: 'And Justice John Paul Stevens, joined by Justice David H. Souter, wrote that there was a distinction “between constitutionality and wise policy,” and that they did not necessarily disagree with the lower courts’ findings of “glaring deficiencies” in the present system, despite its embrace by state lawmakers.'

October 2007: Last Monday, Justice John Paul Stevens issued an unusual statement in the case of Christopher S. Emmett. The court had been set to consider Mr. Emmett’s appeal on Sept. 24 after returning from its summer break. “Nevertheless,” Justice Stevens wrote, “Virginia set an execution date of June 13.”

June 2007: Writing for the four dissenters on Monday, Justice John Paul Stevens said the majority had erased an important distinction the Supreme Court had long drawn between “mere opposition to the death penalty” and “an inability to perform the legally required duties of a juror.” Justice Stevens said the court’s precedents made it clear that no matter what a juror’s personal opinion about capital punishment, that juror should not be dismissed in the absence of evidence of unwillingness or inability to follow the law.

April 2007: 'This is the congressional design,' Justice Stevens writes. 'EPA has refused to comply with this clear statutory command.' Joining Stevens in the majority were Justices Anthony Kennedy, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Stephen Breyer.

February 2007: There are other reasons for our growing doubt about the death penalty. In a 2005 speech, Justice John Paul Stevens pointed to several, including DNA evidence showing 'that a substantial number of death sentences have been imposed erroneously,' the pressure that elected judges face to impose capital punishment, and the problem of barring jurors who oppose capital punishment from sitting on capital cases, creating juries that may favor execution. For these and other reasons, Americans have begun to worry that the death penalty in this country is not reserved for the so-called worst of the worst, but rather for the poorest of the poor, and those whose trial attorneys later prove to have been asleepest at the switch.

August 2005: CHICAGO -- Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens issued an unusually stinging criticism of capital punishment Saturday evening, telling the American Bar Association that he is disturbed by 'serious flaws.'


RoleNameTypeLast Updated
Member of (past or present) Department of the Navy Organization Dec 21, 2005
Student/Trainee (past or present) Northwestern University Organization Dec 21, 2005
Employee/Contractor/Fellow/Freelancer (past or present) US House of Representatives Organization Dec 21, 2005
Member of (past or present) US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) Organization
Student/Trainee (past or present) University of Chicago Organization Dec 21, 2005
Supervisor of (past or present) Prof. Jeffrey L. Fisher Esq. Person Apr 17, 2008
Supervisor of (past or present) Prof. Eduardo Peñalver Esq. Person Feb 2, 2008
Subordinate of (past or present) Justice Wiley Rutledge Person Dec 21, 2005

Articles and Resources

82 Articles and Resources. Go to:  [Next 20]   [End]

Date Resource Read it at:
Mar 19, 2012 At Heart of Health Law Clash, a 1942 Case of a Farmer’s Wheat

QUOTE: Mr. Filburn sued to overturn a 1938 federal law that told him how much wheat he could grow on his family farm and made him pay a penalty for every extra bushel. The 1942 decision against him, Wickard v. Filburn, is the basis for the Supreme Court’s modern understanding of the scope of federal power.

New York Times
Jan 03, 2011 Anonymity and the Dark Side of the Internet

QUOTE: What is remarkable about this volume is that the legal academics who make the arguments I have rehearsed are by and large strong free-speech advocates. Yet faced with the problems posed by the Internet, they start talking about “low value” speech (a concept strong first-amendment doctrine rejects) and saying things like “autonomy resides not in free choice per se but in choosing wisely” and “society needs not an absence of ‘chill,’ but an optimal level.”(In short, let’s figure out which forms of speech we should discourage.)

New York Times
Jun 28, 2010 Justices Rule Against Group That Excludes Gay Students

QUOTE: A public law school did not violate the First Amendment by withdrawing recognition from a Christian student group that excluded gay students, the Supreme Court ruled...

New York Times
Jun 25, 2010 Justices say petition signers should not expect their names to be kept secret

QUOTE: Those who sign referendum petitions should generally not expect to keep their names secret, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday, rejecting the argument of an anti-gay-rights group that disclosure would violate their First Amendment protection of political expression.

Washington Post
Jun 24, 2010 Justices Limit Use of ‘Honest Services’ Law Against Fraud

QUOTE: The justices were unanimous in calling a broad interpretation of the law, which makes it a crime “to deprive another of the intangible right of honest services,” unconstitutionally vague.

New York Times
May 21, 2010 Detainees Barred From Access to U.S. Courts

QUOTE: A federal appeals court ruled Friday that three men who had been detained by the United States military for years without trial in Afghanistan had no recourse to American courts. The decision was a broad victory for the Obama administration in its efforts to hold terrorism suspects overseas for indefinite periods without judicial oversight.

New York Times
May 18, 2010 Supreme Court restricts life without parole for juveniles

QUOTE: Juveniles may not be sentenced to life in prison without parole for any crime short of homicide, the Supreme Court ruled yesterday, expanding its command that young offenders must be treated differently from adults even for heinous crimes.

Washington Post
Apr 19, 2010 Justices Get Personal Over Privacy of Messages

QUOTE: The question in a case argued Monday in the Supreme Court sounded both irresistible and important: Did a California police department violate the Constitution by reading sexually explicit text messages sent by an officer on a department-issued pager?

New York Times
Mar 03, 2010 Supreme Court does more wrangling with gun laws

QUOTE: The same members of the Supreme Court who ruled two years ago that the Second Amendment provides an individual right to own a firearm seemed ready Tuesday to ensure that state and local gun-control laws do not interfere with it. But a majority also indicated that the states may have "broader interests" in restricting gun ownership than the federal government.

Washington Post
Feb 25, 2010 Supreme Court rules that request for lawyer in questioning has expiration

QUOTE: A suspect's request that a lawyer be present before submitting to police questioning does not last forever, the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday. In fact, 14 days is long enough for police to wait before taking the alleged perpetrator into custody again and attempting another interrogation.

Washington Post
Dec 09, 2009 Supreme Court dismisses challenge to Illinois forfeiture law: The Supreme Court dismissed a case pitting innocent property owners against Chicago police and prosecutors who held seized autos and other property for years

QUOTE: The US Supreme Court on Tuesday handed a victory to the Cook County State's Attorney and the Chicago Police Department when the justices unanimously dismissed as moot a challenge to Illinois' controversial forfeiture law.

Christian Science Monitor
Jun 29, 2009 Supreme Court Finds Bias Against White Firefighters

QUOTE: The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that white firefighters in New Haven were subjected to race discrimination when the city threw out a promotional examination on which they had done well and black firefighters poorly....The new standards announced by the court will make it much harder for employers to discard the results of hiring and promotion tests once they are administered, even if they have a disproportionately negative impact on members of a given racial group.

New York Times
Jun 29, 2009 Justices Rule That States Can Press Bank Cases

QUOTE: The Supreme Court paved the way on Monday for states to enforce fair-lending laws and other consumer protection measures against the nation’s biggest banks, striking down a rule that limited such powers to federal banking regulators....The letters referred to “troubling” disparities that suggested black and Hispanic borrowers had been charged disproportionately higher interest rates on mortgages compared with those for whites.

New York Times
May 18, 2009 Justices Turn Back Ex-Detainee’s Suit

QUOTE: A Pakistani Muslim who was arrested after the Sept. 11 attacks may not sue John Ashcroft, the former attorney general, and Robert S. Mueller III, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, for abuses he says he suffered in a Brooklyn detention center...failed to allege a plausible link between the officials’ conduct and the abuses he said he had suffered.

New York Times
May 04, 2009 Justices Limit Liability Over Toxic Spill Cases

QUOTE: The Supreme Court made it harder on Monday for the government to recover the often enormous costs of environmental cleanups from companies with only minor or limited responsibility for toxic spills. The decision tightened the reach of the Superfund law by limiting both the kinds of companies subject to liability and the situations in which partly culpable companies can be made to bear the entire cost of cleanups.

New York Times
Apr 28, 2009 Supreme Court Upholds F.C.C.’s Shift to a Harder Line on Indecency on the Air

QUOTE: Broadcasters that allow foul language on live programs may be punished even if the vulgarities were unscripted and isolated...The ruling was based on administrative rather than constitutional law and focused on whether the Federal Communications Commission had provided an adequate explanation for changing a longstanding policy that had effectively provided a safe harbor for “fleeting expletives.”

New York Times
Nov 05, 2008 Supreme Court Justices Debate the 'F-Bomb'

QUOTE: The Supreme Court appeared far from a consensus Tuesday on whether the Federal Communication Commission's crackdown on broadcasters who allow "fleeting expletives"...It was an unusual hour, as justices debated the relative impact of barnyard epithets, and Solicitor General Gregory Garre warned the Court not to rule in a way that could lead to "Big Bird dropping the f-bomb on Sesame Street."

Legal Times
Jun 26, 2008 Justices Rule for Individual Gun Rights

QUOTE: Justice Antonin Scalia, writing for the majority in the landmark 5-to-4 decision, said the Constitution does not allow “the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home.” In so declaring, the majority found that a gun-control law in the nation’s capital went too far by making it nearly impossible to own a handgun.

New York Times
Jun 26, 2008 High Court Rejects Controversial Campaign Finance Provision

QUOTE: The Supreme Court today narrowly overturned a controversial provision of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance legislation, ruling that it is unconstitutional to allow candidates to accept larger-than-normal contributions if their opponents use their own fortunes to finance election bids.

Washington Post
Jun 26, 2008 Right to Face Accusers Is Affirmed in Unusual Case: Witness Was Murder Victim

QUOTE: The Supreme Court yesterday threw out the conviction of a man accused of murdering his ex-girlfriend because the defendant could not challenge an incriminating account she gave the police weeks before her death. The 6 to 3 ruling drew howls from domestic violence opponents who said the decision could lead to perverse situations in which criminals would reap a legal "windfall" after killing their victims.

Washington Post

82 Articles and Resources. Go to:  [Next 20]   [End]