John Paul Stevens

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John Paul Stevens
John Paul Stevens.jpg
Court Information:
Supreme Court of the United States
Title:   Former Justice
Position:   Seat #5
Appointed by:   Gerald Ford
Active:   12/17/1975-6/30/2010
Senior:   6/30/2010-Present
Preceded by:   William Douglas
Succeeded by:   Elena Kagan
Past post:   Seventh Circuit
Past term:   10/14/1970-12/18/1975
Personal History
Born:   1920
Hometown:   Chicago, IL
Undergraduate:   University of Chicago, 1941
Law School:   Northwestern University Law, 1947
Military service:   U.S. Naval Reserves, 1942-1945

John Paul Stevens (born April 20, 1920) was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. He joined the Supreme Court in 1975 after a nomination by President Gerald Ford. Although Stevens was widely considered to be on the liberal side of the court, Ford praised Stevens in 2005: "He is serving his nation well, with dignity, intellect and without partisan political concerns."

His last day on the court was June 28, 2010.[1]

Stevens was the only justice nominated to the Supreme Court by President Ford. During his tenure, Stevens served during The Burger Court, The Rehnquist Court and The Roberts Court.[2]

Early life and education

Stevens was born on April 20, 1920, in Chicago, Illinois.

Stevens obtained his B.A. in English from the University of Chicago in 1941. With the end of World War II, Stevens enrolled in the Northwestern University School of Law in 1945. He received his J.D. in 1947.[1]

Military service

He began work on his master's degree in English at the university in 1941, but soon decided to join the United States Navy. He served as a Lieutenant Commander from 1942-1945, during World War II.[1]

Professional career

After law school, Stevens served as a clerk to Supreme Court Justice Wiley Rutledge. Next, Stevens joined the law firm of Poppenhusen, Johnston, Thompson & Raymond in Chicago. In 1951, he returned to Washington, D.C. to serve as Associate Counsel to the Subcommittee on the Study of Monopoly Power of the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives. At the age of 32, Stevens started a law firm with two other young lawyers. Called Rothschild, Stevens, Barry & Myers and based in Chicago, at this firm Stevens concentrated on antitrust cases. Due to his growing expertise in antitrust law, he was asked to teach the "Competition and Monopoly" course at the University of Chicago Law School. He also performed as a member of the Attorney General's National Committee to Study Antitrust Law.[1]

Federal judicial career

Supreme Court of the United States

Stevens was appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States by Gerald Ford on November 28, 1975, to replace Justice William O. Douglas. Stevens took his seat December 17, 1975, after being confirmed 98–0 by the Senate. He assumed senior status on June 30, 2010. He was succeeded to this post by Elena Kagan.

Stevens' decision to hire only one law clerk for the term that began in October 2010 fueled speculation that he intended to retire. By that time in years past, Justice Stevens normally had hired four law clerks.[3][4][5]

On April 9, 2010, Judge Stevens announced that he would retire from the nation's highest court after the court's session ended in June.[6]

His letter to the President read:

My dear Mr. President:

Having concluded that it would be in the best interests of the Court to have my successor appointed and confirmed well in advance of the commencement of the Court's next Term, I shall retire from regular active service as an Associate Justice, under the provisions of 28 D.S.C. § 371(b), effective the next day after the Court rises for the summer recess this year.
Most respectfully yours,

John Paul Stevens[7]

Seventh Circuit

President Richard Nixon nominated Stevens to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on November 20, 1970, to fill the vacancy left by Elmer Schnackenberg. Stevens was confirmed on October 8, 1970, and received commission on October 14, 1970. He served in this capacity until President Gerald Ford nominated him as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. He was succeeded on the Seventh Circuit by Harlington Wood.

Notable cases

Author: John Paul Stevens

Vote Count: 6-3

Majority Justices: Kennedy, Ginsburg, Souter, Breyer

Concurring Justices: Scalia

Dissenting Justices: O'Connor, Thomas, Rehnquist

Gonzalez v. Raich (2005)

When the Compassionate Use Act was passed in California in 1996, it legalized marijuana use for medicinal purposes. However, it conflicted with the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA). When the DEA seized medical marijuana from a home, a group of medical marijuana users sued the DEA and U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft. When the case moved to the Supreme Court, the question of whether or not Congress could control the growing and distribution of medical marijuana under the Commerce Clause had to be answered. On June 6, 2005, the Court determined that the Commerce Clause did, in fact, prohibit states from making regulations regarding the distribution of medical marijuana.[8]

See also

External links


Political offices
Preceded by:
Elmer Schnackenberg
Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals
Succeeded by:
Harlington Wood
Preceded by:
William Douglas
Supreme Court
Seat #5
Succeeded by:
Elena Kagan