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Circuit Court of Appeals had developed a number of doctrines that allowed that court to aggressively second-guess agency decision-making to ensure that the agencies realized the broad and ambitious goals of environmental statutes. Justice Stevens firmly rejected the idea that environmentalism was some sort of transcendental force that gave judges special powers to enforce broad statutory goals. Most famously, in Chevron v. Circuit for substituting its judgment for that of the Reagan EPA, which sought to give industry more flexibility in meeting their Clean Air Act obligations.

While a bitter defeat for environmentalists, Chevron, which holds that judges must follow the law when clear and defer to agencies when they make a reasonable judgment about an ambiguous law, is rightly hailed today as a landmark of both administrative law and judicial restraint.

Judge Kavanaugh and the 'Chevron deference'

Tahoe Sierra Preservation Council v. Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and Massachusetts v. Justice Stevens garnered a six-justice majority for a ruling that returned the Takings Clause to its intended role mainly in securing compensation for landowners when the government exercises its power of eminent domain. More information about this report can be viewed below. People and organizations associated with either the creation of this report or its content.

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Supreme Court Justice Stevens Opens Up

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Bakke , U. But on the more conservative Rehnquist Court, Stevens joined the more liberal Justices on issues such as abortion rights, gay rights and federalism. Stevens's jurisprudence has usually been characterized as idiosyncratic. Stevens, unlike most justices, usually wrote the first drafts of his opinions himself and reviewed petitions for certiorari within his chambers instead of having his law clerks participate as part of the cert pool. He is not an originalist such as fellow Justice Antonin Scalia nor a pragmatist such as Judge Richard Posner , nor does he pronounce himself a cautious liberal such as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

He was considered part of the liberal bloc of the Court starting in the mids, and was dubbed the "Chief Justice of the Liberal Supreme Court", [27] [28] though he publicly called himself a judicial conservative in In 's Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Center , U. Superior Court of California , U. Stevens was once an impassioned critic of affirmative action ; in addition to the decision in Bakke , he dissented in the case of Fullilove v. Klutznick , U. He shifted his position over the years and voted to uphold the affirmative action program at the University of Michigan Law School challenged in 's Grutter v.

Bollinger , U. Stevens wrote the majority opinion in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld in , in which he held that certain military commissions had been improperly constituted. He also wrote a lengthy dissenting opinion in Citizens United v. FEC , arguing the majority should not make a decision so broad that it would overturn precedents set in three previous Supreme Court cases. Stevens's views on obscenity under the First Amendment have changed over the years.

Life and career

Initially quite critical of constitutional protection for obscenity, rejecting a challenge to Detroit zoning ordinances that barred adult theaters in designated areas in 's Young v. American Mini Theatres , U. Ashcroft , U. Perhaps the most personal and unusual feature of his jurisprudence is his continual referencing of World War II in his opinions, which Stevens often cites in an attempt to appeal to shared patriotic, American values.

For example, Stevens, a World War II veteran, was visibly angered by William Kunstler 's flippant defense of flag-burning in oral argument in 's Texas v. Johnson , U.

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Wrote Stevens, "The ideas of liberty and equality have been an irresistible force in motivating leaders like Patrick Henry , Susan B. Washington , the Philippine Scouts who fought at Bataan , and the soldiers who scaled the bluff at Omaha Beach. If those ideas are worth fighting for — and our history demonstrates that they are — it cannot be true that the flag that uniquely symbolizes their power is not itself worthy of protection from unnecessary desecration.

Stevens generally supports students' right to free speech in public schools. He wrote sharply worded dissents in Bethel v. Fraser , U.

John Paul Stevens

Frederick , U. However, he joined the court's ruling on Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier , U. Jaffree , U. He affirmed that the Establishment Clause is binding on the States via the Fourteenth Amendment , and that: At one time, it was thought that this right merely proscribed the preference of one Christian sect over another, but would not require equal respect for the conscience of the infidel, the atheist, or the adherent of a non-Christian faith such as Islam or Judaism. But when the underlying principle has been examined in the crucible of litigation, the Court has unambiguously concluded that the individual freedom of conscience protected by the First Amendment embraces the right to select any religious faith or none at all.

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Stevens wrote a dissent in Van Orden v. Perry , U.


This includes a prohibition against enacting laws or imposing requirements that aid all religions as against unbelievers, or aid religions that are based on a belief in the existence of God against those founded on different principles. When interpreting the interstate commerce clause , Stevens consistently sided with the federal government.

He dissented from United States v. Lopez , U. Morrison , U. He then authored Gonzales v. Raich , U. Stevens has a generally liberal voting record on the Fourth Amendment , which deals with search and seizure. Stevens authored the majority opinion in Arizona v. Gant , which held that "police may search a vehicle incident to a recent occupant's arrest only if the arrestee is within reaching distance of the compartment at the time of the search or it is reasonable to believe the vehicle contains evidence of the offense of arrest.

Acton , U. He was a dissenter in Oliver v. United States , U. However, in United States v. Montoya De Hernandez , U. Ross , U. He also authored the dissent in Kyllo v. In a paper [32] Ward Farnsworth argues that Stevens's "dissents against type" in Stevens's case, votes in dissent in favor of the government's position and against the accused, such as the one in Kyllo suggest that while Stevens "believes strongly in laying out resources for the sake of accuracy and opportunities to protest an unfair trial, [he is] not nearly as concerned about restraining the government at the front end of the process, when it is gathering evidence — for the costs of invaded rights then are to liberty rather than to accuracy ".

Stevens joined the majority in Gregg v. Georgia , U.