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Associate Justice John Paul Stevens

The Maverick

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"It is not our job to apply laws that have not yet been written."
Associate Justice John Paul Stevens

Associate Justice John Paul Stevens

Image Courtesy of the U.S. Supreme Court
The cheerful, bowtied Justice Stevens has confounded Court watchers for decades with his strict refusal to fall in line with liberal or conservative blocs. As justices and judiciary movements come and go, the Court's longest-serving member continues to hand down groundbreaking new rulings and dissents.

Vital Statistics


86 years old. Graduated from the University of Chicago (1941) and Northwestern University Law School (magna cum laude, 1947), where he served as co-editor of the prestigious Illinois Law Review. Congregationalist. Married twice, currently to Maryan Mulholland Simon, with eight children, various grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.

Career Background


1942-1945: Intelligence officer for the U.S. Navy during World War II. Earned a Bronze Star.

1947-1948: Clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Wiley Rutledge.

1950-1952: Associate counsel at Poppenhusen, Johnston, Thompson & Raymond in Chicago, Illinois.

1950-1954: Lecturer in Antitrust Law at Northwestern University.

1951-1952: Associate Counsel to the Subcommittee on the Study of Monopoly Power of the Judiciary, the U.S. House of Representatives.

1952-1970: Partner at Rothschild, Stevens, Barry & Myers in Chicago, Illinois.

1953-1955: Served on the National Committee to Study Antitrust Law under U.S. Attorney General Herbert Brownell during the Eisenhower administration.

1955-1958: Lecturer in Antitrust Law at the University of Chicago.

1970-1975: Associate Justice of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Nomination and Approval


In December 1975, President Gerald Ford nominated Stevens to replace the retiring Associate Justice William O. Douglas. He was approved unanimously (99-0) by the Senate.

Landmark Cases


Federal Communications Commission v. Pacifica Foundation (1978): Ruled that the FCC could regulate indecent speech in broadcast media during hours where children are likely to be watching or listening.

Bush v. Gore (2000): Fiercely dissented in the 5-4 case that granted George W. Bush the presidency.

Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe (2000): Ruled that laws specifically designed to encourage student-led prayer at public school events violate the First Amendment's establishment clause.

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