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Justice John Paul Stevens’ Record, Essay Example

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Justice John Paul Stevens retired in 2010, after serving on the Supreme Court for nearly four decades. Justice Stevens was nominated by a conservative Republican president, Gerald Ford, and while his judicial philosophy was conservative, he ultimately became viewed as one of the most liberal judges on the court. Stevens’ philosophy was that government should be a small as possible, intervening in the affairs of the state only when absolutely necessary. However, as the country evolved, so did his decision-making process so that in the end, he frequently favored defining the powers of government in a more diverse manner than he had early in his career.

Justice Stevens wrote the majority opinion in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, which disputed the legality of President George W. Bush’s military tribunals in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Justice Stevens expressed the opinion that the tribunals were in direct contradiction to the Uniform Code of Military Justice as well is the Geneva Conventions. This was consistent with his belief that government must be checked in order to prevent abuses of power.

In one of his more famous dissents, Justice Stevens expressed a highly critical opinion in Bush v. Gore, the Supreme Court decision to stop the Florida recount and facilitate the resolution of the election in favor of Bush, effectively appointing him president. Justice Stevens felt that the majority decision demonstrated a lack of confidence in the Florida state courts to make decisions regarding their state, and that the decision would reinforce cynicism about the Supreme Court’s record being more about politics than about justice. He felt that the Court had dealt a significant blow to its credibility. Again, rather than being a liberal point of view, this opinion reflected Justice Stevens’  belief that government needs to be reined in to avoid abuses of power which this case certainly exemplified. In fact, his belief about the Supreme Court being viewed as partisan has certainly been the case since then.

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