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The Supreme Court's Worst Decision (According to Justice Stevens)

Washington DC Legal DC

At 94 years old, retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens is still going strong. He recently spoke to students at Georgetown Law School about the Court's low point.


Bush v. Gore was the worst decision while he was on the court (1975 to 2010), said Stevens, here with G'town Law Dean William Treanor. Citizens United was bad enough, but Bush v. Gore was worse: it gave the public the "incorrect impression that the court is a political body." Justice Stevens published a book this year called Six Amendments. His proposed changes to the Constitution include overturning the Second Amendment and getting rid of the death penalty. The most important of the six, though, is dealing with gerrymandering, he says, with campaign finance a close second.


Before he was nominated to SCOTUS, Justice Stevens says he was invited to a dinner at the White House with President Ford and the sitting Justices—and 25-30 other judges. He and a longtime friend and possible nominee, Judge Philip Tone, agreed to tell each other anything they heard. The Friday after Thanksgiving, he recalls, Ford called him up and said that he'd like to nominate him later that day, and to keep it a secret. Stevens replied that he'd promised to tell Tone...and later that day, someone from the White House called Stevens back and said he could tell his friend shortly in advance of the official announcement. Justice Stevens' advice to students is to "realize when you start practicing law, that your most important asset is your reputation for integrity."