United Liberty
John Paul Stevens: No friend of liberty

As Justice John Paul Stevens prepares to leave the Supreme Court, Ilya Shapiro takes a look back at his career:

John Paul Stevens, the oldest-ever and (by the end of the term) second-longest-serving Supreme Court justice, has had a long career that, judging by his fitness regimen—the envy of men much younger than he—could have continued for many years yet.  Justice Stevens is to be commended for his record of service in a variety of positions in the public and private sector.

Unfortunately, the jurisprudential legacy he leaves behind is much more checkered than his personal integrity and professionalism: Justice Stevens “grew” from his country-club Republican roots to becoming the Court’s liberal lion.  While a friend of liberty in certain limited circumstances, he ultimately hangs his hat on supporting government action over the rights of individuals in contexts ranging from property rights (Kelo v. New London) to the Second Amendment (D.C. v. Heller) to free speech (Citizens United and Texas v. Johnson, the flag-burning case) to executive agency power (Chevron).  And even on those issues where friends of liberty can disagree in good faith as a matter of policy, such as abortion and the death penalty, Stevens admittedly and unabashedly asserted his own policy preferences instead of following the law.

Republican SCOTUS Nomination Plans: A Fight, But No Filibuster

Republicans are readying themselves for a fight over the upcoming Supreme Court nomination hearings, but appear to have already taken the filibuster option off the table:

Conservative judicial activists say they won’t ask their Republican allies to go to the mat over President Barack Obama’s nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens by pressing for the ultimate weapon in a court fight – a filibuster.

Instead, they say the nomination of a Democrat to the court will be an opportunity to cement the support of the tea party movement, broaden their base, and motivate supporters to turn out to support Republicans in the mid-term elections in November.

Taking the filibuster off the table is a smart idea. To put it bluntly, it’s unlikely that the 41 Republicans in the Senate will be able to stick together to filibuster the kind of “liberal but not controversial” nominee that we’re likely to see from Obama. At the very least, I would expect to see most if not all of the nine Republicans who ended up voting for Sonia Sotomayor to walk across the aisle to vote to invoke cloture should there be any attempt to filibuster. Moreover, unless Obama does surprise everyone and select someone with a controversial record, which I find unlikely, Senate Republicans would likely lose the public relations war over the nomination. Not a smart thing to do only months before a crucial mid-term election.

Stevens to retire from SCOTUS

Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens will retire this summer, giving President Barack Obama his second SCOTUS pick:

Stevens said Friday he will step down when the court finishes its work for the summer in late June or early July. He said he hopes his successor is confirmed “well in advance of the commencement of the court’s next term.”

Stevens’ announcement leaves ample time for the White House to settle on a successor and for Senate Democrats, who control a 59-vote majority, to hold confirmation hearings and a vote before the court’s next term begins in October. Republicans have not ruled out attempts to delay confirmation.

Stevens’ announcement had been hinted at for months. It comes 11 days before his 90th birthday.

Appointed by Gerald Ford in 1975, Stevens has aligned himself with “liberal” wing of the Court, so with Obama making the pick the ideological divide will not be affected.

Slate already has a list of potential nominees. Whoever it is will be named quickly and they will be a safe pick. President Obama and Democrats will want to avoid a tough confirmation fight that could stretch into late summer of an election year.

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Justice John Paul Stevens Says He Will Retire Within Three Years
BREAKING: Souter to retire from SCOTUS

Supreme Court Justice David Souter has announced his retirement:

Souter is expected to remain on the bench until a successor has been chosen and confirmed, which may or may not be accomplished before the court reconvenes in October.

At 69, Souter is nowhere near the oldest member of the court, but he has made clear to friends for some time now that he wanted to leave Washington, a city he has never liked, and return to his native New Hampshire.

Now, according to reliable sources, he has decided to take the plunge and has informed the White House of his decision.

Souter’s retirement would give President Obama his first appointment to the high court, and most observers expect that he will appoint a woman.


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