Kenneth A. Manaster on Justice John Paul Stevens
In all of this week’s hubbub surrounding Elena Kagan—President Obama’s nominee to replace John Paul Stevens on the U. S. Supreme Court—the articles and op-eds praising retiring Justice Stevens have fallen below the radar. Here’s one by Kenneth Manaster, author of Illinois Justice: The Scandal of 1969 and the Rise of John Paul Stevens from the SCOTUS blog:
Like a few others invited to write for this series about Justice Stevens, I believe an invitation was extended to me more because of my long friendship with him than because of my scholarly interests or our professional association. As principally an environmental law teacher, I have already written elsewhere about John’s work on the Court in that subject. As one of the small, lucky group of young Chicago lawyers who worked under him in the 1969 Special Commission investigation of the Illinois Supreme Court, I also have written a history of that remarkable, pivotal chain of events. In the ensuing forty-plus years, my friendship with John has been a great joy, but reflections on simply a personal connection cannot be presumed to be of much interest or benefit to others.
What, then, might I offer to readers who follow Justice Stevens’ career? Mulling this over, I happened upon a 1994 commencement address by the author Kurt Vonnegut. He spoke of the value to each of us of learning from “one person who could really teach, whose lessons made life and yourselves much more interesting and full of possibilities than you had previously supposed possible.” It suddenly struck me that perhaps the reason John Stevens is so widely admired, indeed revered, is because he has been not just a great judge, but a great teacher, too.
Continue reading at the SCOTUS blog.
On Manaster’s Illinois Justice:
Illinois political scandals reached new depths in the 1960s and ’70s. In Illinois Justice, Ken Manaster takes us behind the scenes of one of the most spectacular. The so-called Scandal of 1969 not only spelled the end of an Illinois Supreme Court justice’s aspirations to the U.S. Supreme Court, but also marked the beginning of little-known lawyer John Paul Stevens’s rise to the high court.
More on the Press website.
Also see transcriptions of original source documents referenced in the book.