1975 December 19

John Paul Stevens Joins Supreme Court


John Paul Stevens was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Gerald Ford on this day. By the time of his retirement, in June 2010, he had become the most consistent civil libertarian on the Court. Stevens’ most important decisions include the following: Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, June 29, 2006, which rejected Bush administration arguments on presidential power in the war on terrorism; District of Columbia v. Heller, June  2008, in which the majority declared a Washington, DC, ban on handguns unconstitutional, and his dissent in Bush v. Gore (2000), in which the majority opinion gave the Florida electoral votes and the presidential election to George W. Bush. In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, January  2010, in which the majority declared unconstitutional important limits on political campaign contributions, he wrote a scathing 90-page dissent that he read from the bench.

In retirement, Stevens became a thoughtful and outspoken critic of a number of Supreme Court decisions he disagreed with. In 2014, he presented these ideas in a highly publicized book, Six Amendments.

From Justice Stevens’ dissent in Citizens United: “A democracy cannot function effectively when its constituent members believe laws are being bought and sold.”

Read: Bill Barnhart and Gene Schlickman, John Paul Stevens: An Independent Life (2010)

Watch an interview with Justice Stevens: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dH_zIWYaQLE

Learn more; Justice Stevens’ ten most important decisions: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/09/justice-john-paul-stevens_n_532514.html#s79921title=Citizens_United_v

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