WASHINGTON — Justice John Paul Stevens, who died on Tuesday at 99, served for nearly 35 years on the Supreme Court docket till his retirement in 2010. Listed below are some highlights from that lengthy and eventful run.
He was the final justice from the “biggest era.”
Justice Stevens was the final member of the Supreme Court docket to have served in World Conflict II, as a Navy cryptographer, and the expertise influenced his jurisprudence. Though his voting file was usually liberal, he dissented from Texas v. Johnson in 1969, which dominated that burning a flag as political protest was protected by the First Modification. “Sanctioning the general public desecration of the flag will tarnish its worth,” he wrote, “each for many who cherish the concepts for which it waves and for many who need to don the robes of martyrdom by burning it.”
[Justice Stevens was praised after his loss of life for his authorized prowess and humble method.]
He had a change of coronary heart on the loss of life penalty.
In 1976, simply six months after he joined the Supreme Court docket, Justice Stevens voted to reinstate capital punishment after a four-year moratorium. With the correct procedures, he wrote, it was attainable to make sure “evenhanded, rational and constant imposition of loss of life sentences underneath regulation.” However he receded from that view over the a long time that adopted.
In 2008, two years earlier than he retired, he introduced in a concurrence that he now believed the loss of life penalty to be unconstitutional. In a 2010 essay revealed in The New York Evaluation of Books after he stepped down, he wrote that personnel modifications on the court docket, coupled with “regrettable judicial activism,” had created a system of capital punishment that was skewed towards conviction, warped by racism, contaminated with politics and tinged with hysteria.
However his qualms, to this point not less than, appear to have had little impression on the Supreme Court docket majority’s views on capital punishment.
He notably dissented in two important circumstances.
In Bush v. Gore, the 2000 determination that handed the presidency to George W. Bush: “Though we might by no means know with full certainty the id of the winner of this yr’s presidential election, the id of the loser is completely clear. It’s the nation’s confidence within the decide as an neutral guardian of the rule of regulation.”
In Residents United, the 2010 determination that allowed companies and labor unions to spend freely in candidate elections: “Primarily, 5 justices have been sad with the restricted nature of the case earlier than us, so that they modified the case to provide themselves a chance to alter the regulation.”
He was chosen for his potential, not his ideology.
President Gerald R. Ford, who appointed Justice Stevens to the Supreme Court docket, stated he had sought only one factor in selecting a nominee: “the best authorized thoughts I might discover.”
Mr. Ford was a Republican and no stranger to battles over judicial politics. Earlier in his profession, he had led a failed try to impeach Justice William O. Douglas for being too liberal, saying he had endorsed “hippie-yippie-style revolution.”
However at the same time as Justice Stevens emerged as a number one liberal on the Supreme Court docket, Mr. Ford remained a fan.
“I’m ready to permit historical past’s judgment of my time period in workplace to relaxation (if essential, completely) on my nomination 30 years in the past of John Paul Stevens to the U.S. Supreme Court docket,” Mr. Ford wrote in 2005.
He mirrored on the court docket lengthy after his retirement.
When Justice Stevens introduced his dissent in Residents United in 2010, he sounded weary, stumbling over and mispronouncing atypical phrases within the lawyer’s lexicon — corruption, company, allegation. Typically he would take a second or third run on the phrase, generally not.
He later stated he had suffered a mini-stroke and that his efficiency had satisfied him that he needed to retire. “I made the choice that day,” he stated in an interview in November.
Some thought he had been too hasty. For nearly one other decade, he stayed terribly energetic — writing books, making speeches and persevering with to mirror on the court docket he formed and cherished.