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Justice Stevens participated in 4076 cases.
Joined with Majority2515
Concurring in Judgment267
Did Not Participate105
Judgment of the Court23
Dissent from Denial of Certiorari1
Jurisdictional Dissent26
Seriatim Opinion1

Stevens, John Paul

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Birth: April 20, 1920, Chicago, Illinois.

Education: University of Chicago, B.A., 1941; Northwestern University School of Law, J.D., magna cum laude, 1947.

Official Positions: Law clerk to Justice Wiley B. Rutledge, 1947–1948; associate counsel, Subcommittee on the Study of Monopoly Power, House Judiciary Committee, 1951; member, U.S. Attorney General's National Committee to Study the Antitrust Laws, 1953–1955; judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, 1970–1975.

Supreme Court Service: Nominated associate justice by President Gerald R. Ford, December 1, 1975, to replace William O. Douglas, who had retired; confirmed by the Senate, December 17, 1975, by a 98–0 vote; took judicial oath December 19, 1975.

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John Paul Stevens
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John Paul Stevens

John Paul Stevens served for five years as an appeals court judge, and before that he had spent two decades as a lawyer in Chicago with a specialty in antitrust matters. He was considered lawyerly, not ideological, and this reputation was one reason President Gerald Ford selected him for the Supreme Court in 1975. Ford had just assumed the presidency after the resignation of Richard Nixon, and he was not looking for a confirmation fight. The result was indeed painless: the Senate confirmed Stevens unanimously after two days of mild questioning. But Justice Stevens's career on the Court then followed a rather unusual path. He started out as a moderate conservative; he ended up the member of the Court considered most reliably liberal in many respects. Stevens was a centrist on the Burger Court, but a leader in dissent after William Rehnquist became chief justice. How are we to account for these changes?

Making sense of Stevens's trajectory requires us to draw some distinctions. First, we must distinguish between two sources of ideological movement: changes in the justice's views and changes in the views of those surrounding him. In Stevens's case both kinds of changes occurred to some extent. In certain areas—particularly those involving race and criminal procedure—the evidence suggests that his views did become less conservative as years went by. At the same time, when Stevens arrived at the Court, other justices—notably William Brennan and Thurgood Marshall—were obviously well to the left of him, as was reflected in their votes in capital cases and many matters under the equal protection clause. When those justices retired and were replaced by David Souter and Clarence Thomas, respectively, the entire Court moved to the right, and Stevens was moved to its left-most edge.

Second, we need to distinguish between conservatism in substance and in method. During Stevens's tenure, “liberalism” generally was associated with certain types of substantive positions: broad views of federal congressional power, a willingness to recognize unenumerated constitutional rights through the doctrine of substantive due process, support for affirmative action but otherwise expansive readings of what the “equal protection of the laws” forbids, robust interpretations of the establishment clause, and solicitude for the rights of criminal defendants. Stevens was at odds with the conservative majorities of the Rehnquist years on many such issues. But conservatism also can refer to style or to judicial technique, and in this respect Stevens has been fairly conservative all along. His approach has been cautious, and he prefers small rather than large decisions. By examining Stevens's record in some areas of interest and controversy, we can ascertain the common threads in his style of decision making.

Stevens's handling of questions concerning race are a good place to start. During his early years on the Court, Stevens consistently voted to strike down affirmative action programs of various sorts. In one such case, Fullilove v. Klutznick (1980), he stated his position in remarkably strong language: “The very attempt to define with precision a beneficiary's qualifying racial characteristics is repugnant to our constitutional ideals.” Moreover, he suggested in a footnote that the government ought to “study precedents such as the First Regulation to the Reichs Citizenship Law of November 14, 1935”—and then quoted from Nazi Germany's rules defining who was Jewish. If the case is taken in isolation, Stevens appears to be painting with a broad brush. But when we look at his decisions as a group, a different style becomes visible: judgments based on details. In Wygant v. Jackson Board of Education (1986), for example, the Court forbade a school district to give preferential treatment to minorities in deciding which teachers to lay off. In dissent, Stevens argued that “a school board may reasonably conclude that an integrated faculty will be able to provide benefits to the student body that could not be provided by an all-white, or nearly all-white, faculty.” But then in City of Richmond v. J. A. Croson Co. (1989), Stevens voted to strike down a program that required construction firms working for the city to give 30 percent of their subcontracts work to businesses owned by minorities. Stevens thought that in construction, unlike in education, there was no reason to think there were benefits to racial diversity.

This style of decision making, based on fine distinctions rather than broad principles, is characteristic of Stevens. But the cases also reflected an apparent movement to the left on substance. A few years after Croson, Stevens dissented from a decision striking down preferences that were similar in many ways to those at issue in Fullilove fifteen years earlier. He criticized the majority for delivering a “disconcerting lecture about the evils of government racial classifications” and said that its analysis “ignores a difference, fundamental to the idea of equal protection, between oppression and assistance.” This made for a stark contrast with the lecture on the dangers of racial classifications Stevens had delivered in his Fullilove dissent. And then Stevens also may have become more liberal on racial issues in a merely relative sense. During the 1990s he dissented consistently from the Court's interpretations of the Voting Rights Act to limit the use of race in redistricting. His dissents contradicted nothing from his early career and may just have reflected the recent arrival of several members of the Court who were considerably to his right on matters of race and many other issues.

Another group of Stevens's decisions under the equal protection clause—those evaluating the lawfulness of discrimination between the sexes—shows a similar combination of fine-spun methods and results that are typically but not reliably liberal. In Craig v. Boren (1976), the Court held unconstitutional a law that prevented the sale of strong beer to males under twenty-one and to females under eighteen. Stevens dissented, suggesting that laws connected to physical differences between the sexes might be considered presumptively valid, and those not so connected might be presumptively invalid. The presumptions could then be rebutted with evidence bearing one way or the other on the link between the laws involved and the justifications for them, and this in turn would require detailed inquiries into the reasons the laws were passed. He voted to strike down laws distinguishing between the sexes in Califano v. Goldfarb (1977), where the Social Security act had distributed survivor benefits differently to widowers and widows; Michael M. v. Superior Court (1981), where the state's criminal penalties for statutory rape applied only to males; and United States v. Virginia (1996), where a state-supported military academy only admitted males. In Miller v. Albright (1998), however, he went the other way. The law in Miller gave citizenship to children born out of wedlock to American mothers and foreign fathers but imposed greater burdens on children born out of wedlock to American fathers and foreign mothers. Stevens held this reasonable because “the blood relationship to the birth mother is immediately obvious and is typically established by hospital records and birth certificates; the relationship to the unmarried father may often be undisclosed and unrecorded in any contemporary public record.” The stylistic pattern is becoming apparent: Stevens makes no sweeping references to principle; instead the judge's role is to carry out detailed scrutiny of whether the application of the law to the facts of the case conforms to reason.

A similar “all things considered” approach is found in Stevens's decisions under the due process clause. In BMW of North America v. Gore (1996), the Court struck down a $2 million award of punitive damages against an auto company for retouching the paint on the plaintiff's car before he bought it. Stevens wrote the majority opinion and spoke of various “guideposts” suggesting that the award was excessive: the defendant's conduct had not been morally reprehensible; the ratio between the punitive damages and compensatory damages ($4,000) was lopsided, indeed “breathtaking”; and the criminal penalties applied to the same conduct were minor. The BMW analysis is classic Stevens: factors are considered that produce a judgment on the facts; the balancing will have to be repeated by other judges in other cases.

In a similar vein are Stevens's opinions in the Court's leading cases on whether the Constitution recognizes a “right to die.” In Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Department of Health (1990), the Court held that the state could forbid the parents of a woman in a vegetative state to withdraw medical support from her. Stevens dissented, saying that “in answering the important question presented by this tragic case, it is wise not to attempt, by any general statement, to cover every possible phase of the subject,” and that “Nancy Cruzan's liberty to be free from medical treatment must be understood in light of the facts and circumstances particular to her.” He then argued that the state could not plausibly insist on prolonging Cruzan's life except on theological grounds, which it had no business doing. Seven years later the Court considered Washington v. Glucksburg (1997) and held that the Constitution does not protect a right to assisted suicide. Stevens wrote a concurring opinion, staking out his now-familiar preference for decision on the details:

Although, as the Court concludes today, [the] potential harms [cited by the state] are sufficient to support the State's general public policy against assisted suicide, they will not always outweigh the individual liberty interest of a particular patient. Unlike the Court of Appeals, I would not say as a categorical matter that these state interests are invalid as to the entire class of terminally ill, mentally competent patients. I do not, however, foreclose the possibility that an individual plaintiff seeking to hasten her death, or a doctor whose assistance was sought, could prevail in a more particularized challenge.

Stevens also has consistently supported abortion rights under the Constitution. Here his most characteristic work has come in assessing laws that require parental notification or consent when a minor seeks an abortion. At one point in his career, Stevens argued it was constitutional to require that a minor obtain consent from one of her parents before having an abortion, but only if a judicial bypass were an option. In another case, however, he took the position that the Constitution forbids a state to require notification of both parents before a minor has an abortion—and this regardless of whether there was a judicial bypass option. He found the distinction between these situations in considering “three separate but related interests—the interest in the welfare of the pregnant minor, the interest of the parents, and the interest of the family unit.”

The same sort of particularism is found in Stevens's decisions concerning freedom of speech: his votes depended on an assessment of the value and context of the speech at stake. In FCC v. Pacifica Corp.(1978), the FCC had decided that a radio station violated federal law by broadcasting comedian George Carlin reciting his “seven dirty words” monologue. Stevens wrote:

The Commission's decision rested entirely on a nuisance rationale under which context is all-important. The concept requires consideration of a host of variables. The time of day was emphasized by the Commission. The content of the program in which the language is used will also affect the composition of the audience, and differences between radio, television, and perhaps closed-circuit transmissions, may also be relevant. As Mr. Justice Sutherland wrote, a “nuisance may be merely a right thing in the wrong place—like a pig in the parlor instead of the barnyard.” We simply hold that when the Commission finds that a pig has entered the parlor, the exercise of its regulatory power does not depend on proof that the pig is obscene.

The agency's style of decision—distinguishing between parlors and barnyards—was congenial to Stevens, and indeed it much resembled his own approach to these cases. This approach has sometimes made his decisions difficult to predict, but it has also produced noticeable trends, making him a less-reliable defender of free speech claims than some of his colleagues who adhere to broader principles. For example, Stevens voted against protecting those who burn American flags, and he has been a consistent vote to uphold restrictive campaign finance laws. He also argued against constitutional protection for “hate speech” in R. A. V. v. City of St. Paul (1992), arguing that “the concept of ‘categories’ fits poorly with the complex reality of expression,” and that “the categorical approach does not take seriously the importance of context.”

Three months after Stevens arrived at the Court, oral arguments were conducted in a series of cases testing the legality of death penalty statutes; the statutes had been passed in response to the Court's decision in Furman v. Georgia (1972). Stevens delivered joint opinions in the cases with Potter Stewart and Lewis Powell. The cases introduced a sort of regulatory regime for the death penalty and started the Court down a path of drawing fine distinctions between when executions were allowed and when they were not. The Court eventually would say, for example, that it is unconstitutional to instruct a jury that it can impose a death sentence if the defendant's crime was “outrageously or wantonly vile, horrible or inhuman” because the instruction is not sufficiently narrow. But it is permissible to give the death penalty to the perpetrator of a crime found “especially heinous, cruel, or depraved”—if those words are read to only cover crimes where the perpetrator “relishes the murder, evidencing debasement or perversion,” or “shows an indifference to the suffering of the victim and evidences a sense of pleasure in the killing.” Stevens did not always join these opinions, but they provide a sense of where his approach to capital punishment has led. He wanted detailed judicial supervision, not abolition or too much deference to the states; and details are what the Court has argued about ever since.

Stevens's tenure also has coincided with a line of decisions constricting the availability of writs of habeas corpus, and Stevens generally resisted the trend. In Rose v. Lundy (1982), the Court considered how federal judges should respond to “mixed” petitions from prisoners—petitions including some claims that had not been exhausted in state court. The majority held that such petitions must be dismissed, but Stevens dissented, saying that the district court

had a duty to look at the context in which the error occurred to determine whether it was either aggravated or mitigated by other aspects of the proceeding.… The inflexible, mechanical rule the Court adopts today arbitrarily denies district judges the kind of authority they need to administer their calendars effectively.

This response was typical of Stevens's preference in interpreting habeas corpus. In Murray v. Carrier (1986), the question was whether a prisoner should be allowed to bring a claim in a habeas corpus proceeding when his lawyer inadvertently had failed to raise the issue on appeal in the state courts. The Court said that the prisoner must show he probably was innocent of the crime to overcome this default. Stevens, in a concurrence, said he would prefer “consideration, not only of the nature and strength of the constitutional claim, but also of the nature and strength of the state procedural rule that has not been observed.” It is always a question of details.

The interesting thing about Stevens's detailed inquiries is that we might expect them to lead in unpredictable directions; after all, one never knows which way the details will point. But in practice they have led to some striking patterns. From fall 1994 through spring 1999, the Court decided 160 criminal matters of one sort or another. Fifty-one of them resulted in unanimous judgments; in the other 109 cases, Stevens voted for the defendant ninety-two times and for the government fifteen times. These votes were the opposite of those cast by Rehnquist, who voted for defendants sixteen times and for the government ninety-one times. They made Stevens considerably more friendly to defendants than, say, Stephen Breyer, who was one of the Court's only two “Democratic” appointees during this period; Breyer voted for defendants fifty-eight times and for the government forty-four times. In this area of the law Stevens seems to have made another ideological shift. From his arrival at the Court through the 1980–1981 term, he voted for the government in criminal cases 43 percent of the time; from the 1994 term through 1999, he voted for the government 26 percent of the time, while Rehnquist's votes for the government during the same period went from 80 percent to 75 percent.

By now a general picture of Stevens's style and substance should be clear enough for us to assess its implications and try to take his measure from the standpoint of jurisprudence. Distinctions of the sort Stevens tends to rely on can be hard to explain as interpretations of constitutional or statutory text; they become comprehensible only by reference to a different model—that of the common law judge. Most of the justices treat the Court's cases fairly openly as occasions for deciding large legal questions, but Stevens is likely to approach a case at the Supreme Court the same way he did as judge on the court of appeals, placing emphasis on the facts rather than relegating them to the background. This style has a distinguished jurisprudential pedigree; it puts one in mind of Oliver Wendell Holmes's description of the common law judge as one who “decides the case first and determines the principle afterwards.” But it also can be a problematic strategy on the Supreme Court, because the Court generally only infrequently hears cases in any given area. So when Stevens makes narrow decisions, he is not necessarily postponing the remaining questions until another day; he more typically is delegating them to lower court judges.

Leaving so much for other judges to decide has costs and benefits. A cost of the approach is a lack of uniformity and predictability in the resulting decisions, especially when the Court hands down open-ended standards that leave trial and appellate judges a good deal of room for discretion. The lower court judges are less constrained as a result, and their rulings are less predictable than they otherwise might be. A benefit, however, is that delegation causes questions to be resolved in a dense factual context that may produce better decisions. As Stevens himself said it:

When we follow our traditional practice of adjudicating difficult and novel constitutional questions only in concrete factual situations, the adjudications tend to be crafted with greater wisdom. Hypothetical rulings are inherently treacherous and prone to lead us into unforeseen errors; they are qualitatively less reliable than the products of case-by-case adjudication.

Another consequence of Stevens's preference, which may be considered either a cost or a benefit, is that it makes trial judges very important and implies great trust in them. They are not merely given rules to apply; they are given legal principles or “factors” to bring to bear on their cases according to their own judgments. In this sense, Stevens shows humility, preferring to spread around the task of decision making among countless judges rather than assign himself the task of making big decisions once and for all. But this strategy also assigns a large role in lawmaking to judges generally. They are left with lots of supervising to do, and they end up giving detailed review to restrictions on abortion, to petitions for habeas corpus, to complaints about restrictions on speech, to punitive damage awards, and on and on.

Stevens's judicial style implies great respect—reverence, even—for the trial judges called upon later to make the sorts of judgments that his decisions require. Stevens once said that his former teacher, Leon Green, had a “special influence on my understanding of the law.” He then described Green's view that “any workable system of law depends as heavily on the quality of the persons who administer it as on the form that particular rules take.” The same view was reflected much later in Stevens's dissent to Bush v. Gore (2000), in which he said he regarded the majority's lack of respect for the impartiality of judges as the most bothersome feature of its decision:

What must underlie petitioners' entire federal assault on the Florida election procedures is an unstated lack of confidence in the impartiality and capacity of the state judges who would make the critical decisions if the vote count were to proceed.… The endorsement of that position by the majority of this Court can only lend credence to the most cynical appraisal of the work of judges throughout the land. It is confidence in the men and women who administer the judicial system that is the true backbone of the rule of law.

This is not the sort of thing one likely would expect to hear from, say, Antonin Scalia, who regards the “backbone” of the rule of law as consisting of rules, not the people who apply them.

Stevens's judicial style reflects a preference for complexity, subtlety, and accuracy in individual cases over predictability, clarity, finality, and cheapness. Does this stance make him a “pragmatist,” as some observers have claimed? It depends how the word is defined. Pragmatism in law can refer generally to a preference for facts and consequences rather than abstractions and theories, and so far this description seems to fit Stevens well enough. He has always cared about how a judicial decision would work in the real world. But pragmatism also can be defined as concern for what “works well” rather than with what comports with high principle, and saying whether this sense of the word describes Stevens is not so easy. The trouble is that, as federal judge Richard Posner has said, “The relevant consequences to the pragmatist are long run as well as short run, systemic as well as individual, the importance of stability and predictability as well as of justice to the individual parties.” The first members of those couplets tended to get short shrift from Justice Stevens. The problem is that notions of pragmatism founded on what “works” are not very informative by themselves. They have to be filled in with value judgments about what it looks like when law works well. So far as Stevens is concerned, a decision that sacrifices individualized accuracy for clarity and predictability does not work well; others might say that Stevens's own decisions are the ones that do not work precisely because they create too much unpredictability and high administrative costs. Assessing him as a pragmatist in this respect is a matter of deciding which sorts of consequences we value.

Stevens's version of pragmatism puts him at home in a significant school of thought in twentieth-century jurisprudence. It is the school that eschewed formalism and mechanical tests in favor of a style of analysis said to be “functional”—a position often identified with legal realism and, occasionally, pragmatism. Stevens's style has a family resemblance to other branches of those movements from the middle of the century—for example, with the interest-balancing approach to choice of law problems. Stevens's approach to judging did not really catch on for the same reason that the net benefits of the conflict of laws revolution were still controversial at the end of the century—not because either of the approaches reflected a want of pragmatism, but because in their pragmatism they struck a balance between priorities that was in questionable keeping with the mainstream values of the times, which weighted clarity, finality, predictability, and generality as more important virtues than those approaches did.

Meanwhile, Stevens also is an antipragmatist in a separate sense: from the time he arrived on the Court, he became a frequent issuer of separate opinions, and he never showed much interest in sacrificing a full airing of his views of a case to secure a majority. “His concern with procedural safeguards was frequently expressed in separate opinions. The number of such opinions in part reflects his deep interest in issues which were to him fundamental, but it also reflects a quality of integrity that is difficult to describe.… His conscience literally forced him to add the statement of the real basis for his vote.” This might sound like a description of Stevens in fact, it was an admiring description that Stevens wrote of Justice Wiley Rutledge, for whom he clerked after graduating from law school. Stevens evidently approved of Rutledge's ways, for he surpassed his former boss in the production of separate opinions. The large number of separate opinions seems to reflect a want of pragmatism more in the colloquial sense of “realpolitik” than in the jurisprudential sense; in the latter respect, it can be viewed as just another example of Stevens's insistence on getting every case decided precisely right on its facts, without overmuch concern for the side consequences.

A final matter to examine is the relationship between Stevens's methods and his politics. The natural question is whether his politics are a product of his method (or vice versa) or whether they are indepen-dent variables. I suggest that they are not independent, at least not all the time, and especially not in the criminal cases where Stevens most obviously staked out territory to the left of his colleagues during the 1990s. Granted, either preference—for abstract rules or for narrow standards—can be (and has been) made consistent with both conservatism and liberalism. But in Stevens's case, his preference for standards over rules seems to stem from a larger set of values: a heavy valuation of accuracy in individual cases; a sense that faith in the judgment of judges is justified, necessary, and to be counted upon, rather than the occasions for it minimized; and a comparatively low valuation of the clarity, finality, and low administrative costs that rules and generalizations provide. These values inevitably tend to produce decisions helpful to criminal defendants, because their cases so often amount to contests between the interests of accuracy and finality.

As noted, during the later years of the Rehnquist Court, Stevens rarely—but not never—voted for the government in criminal matters where the Court was divided. So when did he vote with the government? Most such cases involved the definition of some element of a crime—for example, whether a drug dealer “carries a firearm,” and is therefore subject to extra criminal penalties, when he keeps it in the glove compartment of his car. When making decisions such as these, Stevens was not particularly likely to be helpful to defendants—yet Scalia was: he dissented in almost all of those cases where Stevens voted in a majority that favored the government's position. At first these outcomes might seem odd, for one does not usually think of Scalia as friendlier than Stevens to criminal defendants. But the pattern can be explained by reconsidering the values already noted. A decision about whether to define an element of a crime more or less favorably to a defendant does not play a part in the disagreement between Stevens and the conservatives; it is not obvious which decision about the gun in the glove compartment would be more likely to result in clarity, predictability, finality, low administrative burdens, fairness, or accuracy.

These considerations describe both the nature of Stevens's liberalism and the limitations of it. He is not the sort to make broad proclamations or offer surprising new innovations in favor of civil liberties. His style is fundamentally conservative, and his goal not so much to push back the power of the state as to produce the greatest possible accuracy and fairness in each individual case. That is why he prefers to regulate capital punishment—to micromanage it, we might say—rather than to abolish it as Brennan or Marshall preferred. He is a somewhat frustrating figure for both the right and the left because he does not entirely share the conventional values of either ideological wing.

Stevens took the seat previously occupied by William O. Douglas. The two men lend themselves to interesting and amusing comparisons. They ended up the ranking liberals on their respective Courts in both politics and seniority—rather more surprisingly in Stevens's case. Neither man was terribly interested in compromising his precise views to create a majority or otherwise build a coalition, and, as a result, both of them probably were less influential than they otherwise might have been. But nobody actually familiar with Stevens and Douglas is reminded of either by the other, and in fact they are very nearly opposites. Douglas showed little interest in the sorts of details that are a preoccupation for Stevens. Stevens is the judge's justice; Douglas was the “antijudge.” Stevens is a lawyer; Douglas was a crusader. Taken together they illustrate the great range of meanings “liberalism” can have when applied to a member of the Court and perhaps, finally, the uselessness of the term.

The two justices can, however, teach us something about legal realism. Douglas was a realist of the open variety. He once wrote of a formative moment soon after he joined the Court when the chief justice, Charles Evans Hughes,

made a statement to me which at the time was shattering but which over the years turned out to be true: “Justice Douglas, you must remember one thing. At the constitutional level where we work, ninety percent of any decision is emotional. The rational part of us supplies the reasons for supporting our predilections.”

Douglas went on to become famous for writing his preferences into the law without much fussing over details of doctrine or a close reading of the legal materials involved. Justice Stevens does not care for that approach, as is suggested by this language from one of his dissents:

Some students of the Court take for granted that our decisions represent the will of the judges rather than the will of the law. This dogma may be the current fashion, but I remain convinced that such remarks reflect a profound misunderstanding of the nature of our work. Unfortunately, however, cynics—parading under the banner of legal realism—are given a measure of credibility whenever the Court bases a decision on its own notions of sound policy, rather than on what the law commands.

So Douglas seems an archrealist, and Stevens an antirealist. For all that, however, Stevens himself can be considered a nice study in the realist's claims. Here is the lawyerly judge, meticulously scrutinizing the facts and doctrine of each case, eschewing ideology, and frequently offering idiosyncratic reasoning and arguments—and yet arriving at results in most politically sensitive areas about as predictable as those reached by Rehnquist, who at times was accused of partisanship in rather blunt language. This pairing of meticulous method and consistent outcome shows how difficult it is for any justice to avoid seeing his decisions express his own values, and perhaps especially when he so persistently avoids the constraining force of rules. But if Stevens expresses his values through his decisions, he does so modestly. He plays the law game, and takes it very seriously; regardless of what he says, he generally says it in the language of picky, realist-hating analysis of doctrine and facts. This is admirable, for it means that on their way into his decisions, his values have to be transformed into a shape that constrains the scope of their consequences and leaves room for the values and choices of others. We learn from Stevens that what Hughes said to Douglas probably was true, but that judges do better by doubting and hedging against it than they do by trying to internalize it.


A good discussion of the intersection between Stevens's judicial style and his speech jurisprudence—and an excellent general discussion of Stevens—is Frederick Schauer, “Justice Stevens and the Size of Constitutional Decisions,” Rutgers Law Journal 27 (1996): 543. A good book-length treatment of Stevens's constitutional work is Robert J. Sickels, John Paul Stevens and the Constitution (1988). For more on Stevens's role on the Court, see Stuart Taylor, “The Last Moderate,” American Lawyer 48 (June 1990); and Norman Dorsen, “John Paul Stevens,” Annual Survey of American Law, 1992/1993. And, for a fuller explication of the ideas discussed here, see Ward Farnsworth, “Realism, Pragmatism, and John Paul Stevens,” in Earl Maltz, ed., Rehnquist Justice: Understanding the Court Dynamic (2003).

Noteworthy Opinions

Craig v. Boren, 429 U.S. 190 (1976) (Dissent)

FCC v. Pacifica Corp., 438 U.S. 726 (1978)

Fullilove v. Klutznik, 448 U.S. 448 (1980) (Dissent)

Wygant v. Jackson Board of Education, 476 U.S. 276 (1986) (Dissent)

BMW of North America v. Gore, 517 U.S. 559 (1996)

Washington v. Glucksburg, 521 U.S. 702 (1997) (Concurrence)

Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98 (2000) (Dissent)


Document Citation
Stevens, John Paul, in Biographical Encyclopedia of the Supreme Court 477 (Melvin I. Urofsky ed., 2006),
Document ID: bioenc-427-18169-979531
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