Bench Memos

“The Stevens Myth”

In the New Republic, law professor Justin Driver has an interesting essay titled “The Stevens Myth: Why has everyone fallen for John Paul Stevens’s self-serving narrative?”  On issues ranging from racial preferences to the death penalty to abortion to free speech to criminal procedure, Driver refutes Justice Stevens’s effort to “portray his views as fundamentally unaltered since he joined the Court,” “as an island of statis amid a sea of dynamism.” 

Driver, I should make clear, welcomes Stevens’s “marked ideological shift” leftwards: “Rather than applauding Stevens for a nonexistent steadfastness and misremembering the justice that he once was, the legal left should instead be content to celebrate the admirable justice that he has become.”