Bench Memos

Justice Stevens’s Unethical Testimony

Justice John Paul Stevens retired only from active service in 2010. He remains an Article III judge (eligible to sit on a lower court) and is therefore subject to the same ethical norms that govern the justices in active service. Nonetheless, on top of authoring a book that “offers a manifesto on how the Constitution needs to change,” Justice Stevens has somehow agreed to testify this Wednesday at a Senate Rules Committee hearing on the politically contentious topic of campaign-finance restrictions. I hope that a senator will ask him to explain how it is ethical for him to testify on this matter.

Addendum: Josh Blackman soundly weighs in:

In what bizarro world does an Article III Judge testify before the Senate about a decision issued by his Court. I am out of adjectives to describe the post-judicial behavior of Justice Stevens.

If he wants to speak out against the Court, he should resign his commission, and write as a private citizen. Everyone thinks he has already retired. That’s how his book describes him. So, make it so.

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