Justice Kagan discusses Justice Stevens’ legacy and more

in Everything Else on Jul 18, 2019 at 8:10 pm

Justice Elena Kagan was at Georgetown University Law Center on Thursday afternoon for a conversation with the dean of the law center, William Treanor. With the recent passing of Justice John Paul Stevens, whose seat Kagan filled after Stevens retired, Kagan and Treanor began by discussing Stevens’ legal legacy and remarkable personal character.



Remembering Justice Stevens

in Tributes to Justice John Paul Stevens, Featured on Jul 18, 2019 at 6:44 pm

Ian Heath Gershengorn is Chair of Jenner & Block’s Appellate and Supreme Court practice, and he served as Principal Deputy Solicitor General and as Acting Solicitor General in the Obama Administration; he was a law clerk to Justice John Paul Stevens in 1994-1995.

Justice Stevens was a brilliant justice and a wonderful boss. In thinking about how to convey who the justice was, I think first of his dissents, not for what they show of his jurisprudence — I leave that to others — but instead for what they show about the justice as a person. In those dissents, large and small, the justice revealed a bit of himself and what made him so special.

Let’s start small, with Supreme Court Rule 39.8. That rule allows the court to deny “in forma pauperis,” or IFP, status to frequent and abusive filers, forcing them to pay a filing fee for their petitions to be heard. The order lists from the court routinely contain boilerplate language directing the clerk not to accept the filings of a petitioner who has flooded the court with filing after filing. The court’s practice is reasonable and perfectly understandable. But Justice Stevens routinely dissented from those orders. He explained his reasoning in several dissents in the early 1990s, and I remember his making the same point with us in chambers. The burden on the Supreme Court, he thought, was trivial — the challenged petitions were denied routinely on the substance — but even a heavier burden would be far outweighed by the “shadow it casts on the great tradition of open access that [has] characterized the Court’s history.” For Justice Stevens, it was essential to make clear to “both the rich and the poor” that the court’s doors were always open.



Justice Stevens: Setting an example for all of us

in Tributes to Justice John Paul Stevens, Featured on Jul 18, 2019 at 11:02 am

Jeffrey L. Fisher is a professor of law at Stanford Law School and special counsel at O’Melveny & Myers; he served as a law clerk to Justice John Paul Stevens in 1998-99.

Much has been said in the past couple of days about Justice Stevens’ kindness, humility and generosity of spirit.  All of it is true.

But perhaps not quite enough has yet been said about the justice’s integrity. Selecting a nominee in the wake of the Watergate scandal, President Gerald Ford was said to be guided by a single objective: to find the “finest legal mind” available. But the need to select a jurist who was above reproach must surely have been foremost in his thinking as well.

Justice Stevens on his 90th birthday (Art Lien)



Thursday round-up

in Round-up on Jul 18, 2019 at 6:52 am

Court-watchers offer their assessments of the late Justice John Paul Stevens’ legacy. At Education Week’s School Law Blog, Mark Walsh reports that “in dozens of education cases in his more than 34 years on the court,” Stevens “was a voice for student rights, racial equality, and a high wall of separation between church and state.” Ellen Gilmer focuses on Stevens’ ”robust environmental legacy that affects federal climate action and agency litigation to this day” at E&E News. At In Defense of Liberty, Timothy Sandefur remarks that Stevens’ “earlier years on the Court, his rulings were marked by a healthy skepticism toward the danger of overarching government.” Chris Geidner writes in an op-ed for The New York Times that in his dissenting opinions in Bowers v. Hardwick and Texas v. Johnson, Stevens recognized “the importance of seeking to understand others’ experiences and of understanding that our own experiences inevitably shape the way we see the world.” Additional analysis and commentary comes from James Hohmann for The Washington Post; Jane Schacter and Pamela Karlan at Stanford Law School’s Legal Aggregate blog, here and here; Deborah Pearlstein at TPM Café; and Richard Hasen at Slate, who maintains that Stevens’ controlling opinion for the court in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board upholding an Indiana voter-ID law now “looks like a brilliant tactical move that saved the country from a much worse decision that would have given a green light to restrictive voting laws across the country.”



Statements from Supreme Court justices

in Tributes to Justice John Paul Stevens on Jul 17, 2019 at 4:00 pm

The justices have released statements addressing the death of Justice John Paul Stevens. We reproduce the full texts of those remarks below the jump:



Empirical SCOTUS: Justice Stevens, the longest-living Supreme Court justices, and other age milestones

in Empirical SCOTUS on Jul 17, 2019 at 3:52 pm

With Justice John Paul Stevens’ passing yesterday on July 16, 2019, went the oldest person ever to serve on the Supreme Court. At 99 years of age, Stevens was four years older than the previous justice to live longest, Stanley Reed, who was born in 1884, confirmed to the court in 1938 and died in 1980. Stevens was born in 1920 and confirmed to the court in 1975 (Data for justices’ ages was derived from the Supreme Court Justices Database.).

Click to enlarge.



Wednesday round-up

in Round-up on Jul 17, 2019 at 7:04 am

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens died yesterday at the age of 99 after suffering a stroke on Monday. Amy Howe reports on Stevens’ career for this blog, in a post that first appeared at Howe on the Court. For The Washington Post, Charles Lane writes that Stevens was “a moderate Republican and former antitrust lawyer from Chicago who evolved into a savvy and sometimes passionate leader of the Supreme Court’s liberal wing and became the third-longest-serving justice on the court before he retired in 2010.” Bill Mears reports for Fox News that “[n]early every important social issue before the Court in recent years has had Stevens’ imprint.” For The Wall Street Journal, Jess Bravin observes that “[w]hether in majority or dissent, Justice Stevens represented a pragmatic approach that dominated legal thinking in the 20th century.” Additional coverage comes from Linda Greenhouse for The New York Times, Kevin Daley at The Daily Caller, David Cohen at Politico, and Nina Totenberg at NPR, who notes that Stevens, “[o]ften called a judge’s judge,” was “something of a throwback to a less rancorous era, when, as one writer put it, law and politics were a noble pursuit, not a blood sport.” At PrawfsBlawg, Howard Wasserman wonders which opinions will define Stevens’ legacy.



Retired Justice John Paul Stevens has died

in Featured, What's Happening Now on Jul 16, 2019 at 9:57 pm

John Paul Stevens, who was appointed by President Gerald Ford but became a leader of the Supreme Court’s liberal wing by the time he retired in 2010, died today at a Florida hospital of complications following a stroke that he suffered yesterday. He was 99.

In a statement released by the Supreme Court’s Public Information Office, Chief Justice John Roberts described Stevens as a “son of the Midwest heartland” who “devoted his long life to public service.” Stevens, Roberts continued, “brought to our bench an inimitable blend of kindness, humility, wisdom, and independence. His unrelenting commitment to justice has left us a better nation.”



Petitions of the week

in LAJIM LLC v. General Electric Co., Scoville v. Securities and Exchange Commission, Cases in the Pipeline on Jul 16, 2019 at 1:22 pm

This week we highlight petitions pending before the Supreme Court that address, among other things, the effect of Section 929P(b) of the Dodd-Frank Act’s jurisdictional amendments on Sections 10(b) and 17(a) of the Securities Exchange Act in Securities and Exchange Commission enforcement actions and in federal criminal prosecutions, and the scope of a federal district court’s equitable discretion to deny an injunction in certain cases involving state environmental agencies.

The petitions of the week are:


Issues: (1) Whether a district court has the equitable discretion to deny an injunction when an injunction is the only form of statutory relief, after the plaintiffs proved the merits of the case and when the equitable factors for injunctive relief require a mandatory injunction; (2) whether, when Congress has determined that enforcement of state environmental law is not preclusive in 42 U.S.C. § 6972(a)(1)(B) cases, a district court can rely on a consent order in an irrelevant state-court action brought by a state government under an irrelevant state law as a basis for denying an injunction; (3) whether a federal court can abstain from entering an injunction because a state environmental agency was seeking relief under a state statute that Congress did not find to be an adequate basis for precluding federal jurisdiction; and (4) whether – when Congress provided district courts with the authority under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act to order “such other action as may be necessary,” after a finding of an imminent and substantial endangerment and irreparable harm – Congress was directing district courts to order the action that was necessary, or whether district courts were given the discretion to find that no action was necessary.


Issue: Whether Section 929P(b) of the Dodd-Frank Act’s jurisdictional amendments conferred substantive extraterritorial reach under Sections 10(b) and 17(a) of the Securities Exchange Act in Securities and Exchange Commission enforcement actions and in federal criminal prosecutions.


Tuesday round-up

in Round-up on Jul 16, 2019 at 6:32 am


  • Jake Holland reports at Bloomberg Law that “[o]nly 17% of oral arguments before the Supreme Court in the 2018-19 term were presented by women,” a number that “remains nearly unchanged from half a decade ago.”
  • At Take Care, Leah Litman argues that the Trump administration’s actions between the Supreme Court’s decision blocking the inclusion of a citizenship question on the census and the eventual decision to forego the question “may have consequences for the administration, the Supreme Court, and the targeted victims of the citizenship question.”
  • At The American Spectator, Adam Carrington observes that several opinions this term demonstrate the enduring influence of Justice Antonin Scalia’s textualist approach to legal interpretation.

We rely on our readers to send us links for our round-up. If you have or know of a recent (published in the last two or three days) article, post, podcast or op-ed relating to the Supreme Court that you’d like us to consider for inclusion in the round-up, please send it to roundup [at] scotusblog.com. Thank you!

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