Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Justice Stevens

Charles Lane has a love note to Justice Stevens in today’s Washington Post. Had this been an article about Justice Thomas or Justice Scalia, we would be reading comments (and criticisms) about originalism, strict constructionism and the like. Instead, we read about Justice Stevens – spry oldster and coalition builder (who still manages to lead the league in dissents). Missing from this article is any kind of explanation or description of just what illuminates Justice Stevens’ opinions. Does anyone know? (I mean, beyond such bumper sticker aphorisms as “justice” and “equal rights”)

I ask because Lane’s article highlights some inconsistencies in Justice Stevens’ decisions over the years without any explanation of just how that came to be.
“Early in his court career, Stevens reached some conservative results. In 1976, he cast a fifth vote to permit states to reauthorize the death penalty just four years after the court had invalidated it, and later he voted to strike down strict affirmative-action plans in university admissions and government contracting.”
Well, there was this:
“In a 2005 speech at Fordham Law School in New York City, Stevens alluded to his evolution, noting that "learning on the job is essential.”
….at least he didn’t say he had “grown”.

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