justice

John Paul Stevens, who served on the U.S. Supreme Court from 1975 until 2010, is the first former justice to call for the senate to vote against Brett Kavanaugh.

During a talk in Boca Raton, Florida, the 98-year-old former justice told The Institute for Learning — a group representing the interests of retirees — that the angry, partisan attacks Kavanaugh hurled at Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee is unbecoming of a federal judge being considered for the Supreme Court. The Palm Beach Post reported Thursday that Stevens also lamented the perception of the Supreme Court as a partisan institution.

Justice Stevens, who was appointed by Republican president Gerald Ford and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate, formerly supported Kavanaugh’s nomination to the bench prior to the September 27 hearing. However, Stevens said that Kavanaugh’s behavior toward the committee last week was revealing of his judicial temperament.

“I’ve changed my views for reasons that have no relationship to his intellectual ability,” Stevens said. “I feel [Kavanaugh’s] performance in the hearings ultimately changed my mind.”

“I think the senators should really pay attention that,” he added.

The critique from Stevens is particularly noteworthy, as Stevens is a lifelong Republican, and served on the bench during seven different presidencies (Ford, Carter, Reagan, H.W. Bush, Clinton, W. Bush, Obama). He retired in 2010, after 12,611 days on the Supreme Court, making him the third-longest serving Supreme Court justice in U.S. history (behind William O. Douglas, who served from 1939 to 1975, and Stephen Johnson Field, who served from 1863 to 1897.

Justice Stevens also made headlines earlier this year when he called for the repeal of the Second Amendment — the right to bear arms — roughly one month after the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Stevens was also one of the two dissenters in the monumental Bush v. Gore case of 2000, in which the Supreme Court ordered an end to recount efforts in Florida, handing the presidency to George W. Bush.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to order a vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation by Saturday. Three Republicans — Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Jeff Flake (R-Arizona), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) — remain undecided, with Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) as the lone remaining Democratic holdout.

 

Jake Shepherd is a freelance writer from Cleveland, Ohio. He enjoys poring through financial disclosure statements, spirited debate, and good scotch. He remains eternally optimistic about the Browns. Email him at jake.d.shepherd.21 (at) hotmail (dot) com.

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