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Friday, April 09, 2010  

God Bless You, John Paul Stevens

Words can hardly express how much I will miss this guy. Never again will such an argument be heard from the nation's highest court:

“The current dominant opinion supporting the war on drugs in general, and our antimarijuana laws in particular,” he wrote, “is reminiscent of the opinion that supported the nationwide ban on alcohol consumption when I was a student.”

He watched the legal conviction and exoneration of his father, served the Navy in World War II, was appointed by two Republican presidents, drifted somewhat to the left over the years as the court leaped markedly to the right, threw up critical barriers to the Bush Administration project of radically expanding executive power, and flew his own airplane. What a guy.

I'll miss him because he was the court's most venerable liberal, but he wasn't all that liberal. I'll miss him more specifically because he was unique in a way that steely functionaries like John Roberts and Sam Alito couldn't become if they lived to 120 and drank a bottle of champagne first thing every day. He will most likely be replaced by one of these new-model judicial moderates, most of whom are indistinguishably deferential to business, retiring on questions of social justice, and solicitous of legally protected groups and rights. My gut tells me Obama is going to go with Elana Kagan, as the youngest, most recently confirmed, and most conservative name on the short list, but we'll see. Whomever ends up taking Stevens' place, it probably won't be someone with his inclination to throw curveballs on big issues.

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posted by Benjamin Dueholm | 2:15 PM
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