A tribute to Justice Stevens
The newest piece in our thirty-day series honoring John Paul Stevens, below, is a tribute from Stanley Temko, a co-clerk with Justice Stevens for Justice Wiley Rutledge during the 1947 Supreme Court Term and now senior counsel at Covington & Burling. Like Justice Stevens, this year Mr. Temko celebrates his ninetieth birthday.
Justice John Paul Stevens is a national treasure with his place as a Judge's Judge and humanitarian firmly established. Despite the high quality and substantial number of possible selections to fill his vacancy, John's successor will not be close to filing his shoes for at least a decade.
The outpouring of praise and appreciation since John announced his coming retirement reflects his all-encompassing interests and his talent in every field. John is a sportsman, both as an active tennis and golf enthusiast and as a spectator; he has long been involved in the tussle over the authorship of Shakespeare's plays; he is an airplane pilot; a world master bridge player "“ the list could go on and on. John carries his talents easily. He doesn't display false modesty but is comfortable in his abilities.
John and I were co-clerks for Justice Rutledge in 1947-48. The group of fourteen or fifteen clerks was congenial and talented. Many had appointments for clerkships before World War II and served in the armed forces.
John and I split most of the cases for Justice Rutledge. Several of the issues John handled have risen to the fore in recent years and have confirmed his wisdom and place in the law. I was surprised, and deeply disturbed, by Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito pushing what I regard as extreme positions. I welcome John's emergence as the articulate voice challenging them.
I have not talked with John about his plans when he steps down in June. I am confident that he will continue to be a beacon of light.
I have been privileged to serve with John as a Rutledge clerk and to be a friend since 1947. John and I had our ninetieth birthdays this year and with luck can continue to enjoy each other.
It is good to know that the country and the world have John to champion the rule of law and the interests of the populous.