Semi-Retired Justices Behaving Injudiciously

by Ed Whelan

Law professor Josh Blackman properly faults semi-retired Supreme Court justice John Paul Stevens for writing a new book that (according to its publisher) “offers a manifesto on how the Constitution needs to change” and proposes six specific amendments. As Blackman points out, Stevens retired only from active service and thus remains an Article III judge, and he therefore remains subject to the same “norms of propriety” as any other justice. Does anyone think it would be proper for other justices to be writing books that advocate constitutional amendments?

Somewhat relatedly, I’ve previously addressed Stevens’s conduct after leaving active service, and I’ve written quite a bit on former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who, rightly or wrongly, maintains that she took senior status (rather than full retirement) but who has engaged in crass politicking on state judicial-selection methods and in other fishy and inappropriate activity.

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