Thursday, January 21, 2010

Emphatic Justice Stevens

I obviously haven't had time to read all 183 pages of today's landmark decision in Citizens United, but here's just a quick take on how important it is: Justice Stevens said, "Although I concur in the Court’s decision to sustain BCRA’s disclosure provisions and join Part IVof its opinion, I emphatically dissent from its principal holding."

I added the italics, but even without them, Justice Stevens's statement is stunning. One thing I noticed long ago about Justice Stevens is that he always, always, always dissents "respectfully." For a long time I wondered whether he was saving himself up for the great case, the ultimate case, in which he would just dissent, and not respectfully dissent.

Then along came Bush v. Gore. Even in that case, where the majority opinion perhaps deserved less respect that in any other, Stevens's dissenting opinion concluded with "I respectfully dissent." So I kind of decided that he wasn't saving himself up for the ultimate case. He would always respectfully dissent.

But not today. Today Justice Stevens emphatically dissents. He thinks this case is worse than Bush v. Gore. Wow. It must be quite a case.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I haven't finished reading the dissent yet, but Justice Stevens is throwing haymakers. For example, from page 39 of the dissent:

"This case sheds a revelatory light on the assumption of some that an impartial judge’s application of an originalist methodology is likely to yield more determinate answers, or to play a more decisive role in the decisional process, than his or her views about sound policy."