Cleburne Living Center , U. In Burnham v. Superior Court of California , U.
Stevens was once an impassioned critic of affirmative action ; in addition to the decision in Bakke , he dissented in the case of Fullilove v. Klutznick , U. He shifted his position over the years and voted to uphold the affirmative action program at the University of Michigan Law School challenged in 's Grutter v.
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Bollinger , U. Stevens wrote the majority opinion in Hamdan v.
Rumsfeld in , in which he held that certain military commissions had been improperly constituted. He also wrote a lengthy dissenting opinion in Citizens United v. FEC , arguing the majority should not make a decision so broad that it would overturn precedents set in three previous Supreme Court cases. When reviewing his career at the Supreme Court in his book, The Making of a Justice: Reflections on My First 94 years , Stevens lamented being unable to persuade his colleagues against a decision for Citizens United , which he described as "a disaster for our election law. Stevens's views on obscenity under the First Amendment changed over the years.
He was initially quite critical of constitutional protection for obscenity, rejecting a challenge to Detroit zoning ordinances that barred adult theaters in designated areas in 's Young v.
American Mini Theatres , U. Ashcroft , U. Perhaps the most personal and unusual feature of his jurisprudence was his continual referencing of World War II in his opinions. For example, Stevens, a World War II veteran, was visibly angered by William Kunstler 's flippant defense of flag-burning in oral argument in 's Texas v. Johnson , U.
John Paul Stevens - Wikipedia
Stevens wrote, "The ideas of liberty and equality have been an irresistible force in motivating leaders like Patrick Henry , Susan B. Washington , the Philippine Scouts who fought at Bataan , and the soldiers who scaled the bluff at Omaha Beach. If those ideas are worth fighting for—and our history demonstrates that they are—it cannot be true that the flag that uniquely symbolizes their power is not itself worthy of protection from unnecessary desecration.
Stevens generally supported students' right to free speech in public schools. He wrote sharply-worded dissents in Bethel v.
Fraser , U. Frederick , U. However, he joined the court's ruling on Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier , U. In Wallace v. Jaffree , U. He affirmed that the Establishment Clause is binding on the States via the Fourteenth Amendment , and that: "Just as the right to speak and the right to refrain from speaking are complementary components of a broader concept of individual freedom of mind, so also the individual's freedom to choose his own creed is the counterpart of his right to refrain from accepting the creed of the majority. At one time, it was thought that this right merely proscribed the preference of one Christian sect over another, but would not require equal respect for the conscience of the infidel, the atheist, or the adherent of a non-Christian faith such as Islam or Judaism.
But when the underlying principle has been examined in the crucible of litigation, the Court has unambiguously concluded that the individual freedom of conscience protected by the First Amendment embraces the right to select any religious faith or none at all. Stevens wrote a dissent in Van Orden v. Perry , U. This includes a prohibition against enacting laws or imposing requirements that aid all religions as against unbelievers, or aid religions that are based on a belief in the existence of God against those founded on different principles.
When interpreting the interstate commerce clause , Stevens consistently sided with the federal government. He dissented from United States v.
Lopez , U. Morrison , U. He then authored Gonzales v. Raich , U. Stevens had a generally libertarian voting record on the Fourth Amendment , which deals with search and seizure. Stevens authored the majority opinion in Arizona v. Gant , which held that "police may search a vehicle incident to a recent occupant's arrest only if the arrestee is within reaching distance of the compartment at the time of the search or it is reasonable to believe the vehicle contains evidence of the offense of arrest.
Acton , U. He was a dissenter in Oliver v. United States , U. However, in United States v. Montoya De Hernandez , U. Ross , U. He also authored the dissent in Kyllo v. In a paper, Ward Farnsworth argued that Stevens' "dissents against type" in Stevens' case, votes in dissent in favor of the government's position and against the accused, such as the one in Kyllo suggest that while Stevens "[believed] strongly in laying out resources for the sake of accuracy and opportunities to protest an unfair trial, [he is] not nearly as concerned about restraining the government at the front end of the process, when it is gathering evidence—for the costs of invaded rights then are to liberty rather than to accuracy ".
Stevens joined the majority in Gregg v.
Georgia , U. In later cases such as Thompson v. Oklahoma , U.
Virginia , U. Stevens opposed using the death penalty on juvenile offenders; he dissented in Stanford v. Kentucky , U. Simmons , U. In Baze v. Rees , U. However, he opined that "state-sanctioned killing is He questioned whether Kentucky Derby second-place finisher Eight Belles died more humanely than those on death row. Stevens authored the majority opinion in Chevron U. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. If the organic statute unambiguously expresses the will of Congress, the court enforces the legislature's intent.
If the statute is unclear and is thus thought to reflect a Congressional delegation of power to the agency to interpret the statute , and the agency interpretation has the force of law, courts defer to an agency's interpretation of the statute unless that interpretation is deemed to be "arbitrary, capricious, or manifestly contrary to the statute". This doctrine is now generally referred to as " Chevron deference" among legal practitioners.
Unlike some other members of the court, Stevens was consistently willing to find organic statutes unambiguous and thus overturn agency interpretations of those statutes.