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John Paul Stevens

John Paul StevensBorn: 20-Apr-1920
Birthplace: Chicago, IL

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Judge
Party Affiliation: Republican

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: US Supreme Court Justice, 1975-2010

Military service: US Navy (1942-45)

As a young man John Paul Stevens played squash at the game's upper levels of competition. In the Navy during World War II, he was assigned to the code-breaking effort, and awarded a Bronze Star. As a Supreme Court Justice, he usually wore a bow tie.

Fresh out of law school, Stevens clerked for Supreme Court justice Wiley Rutledge. He began practicing law in 1949, and two years later he formed his own law firm, specializing in antitrust law. By the late 1960s he was well-respected in Chicago's legal community, and he was asked to act as general counsel for a state investigation of judicial corruption.

In 1970, Richard M. Nixon appointed Stevens to the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, where he sat in Chicago and decided cases arising in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. He was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Gerald Ford in 1975, and confirmed by a Senate vote of 98-0.

He was generally categorized as one of the Court's most liberal members, and in a 2006 speech, conservative columnist Ann Coulter joked, "We need somebody to put rat poisoning in Justice Stevens' crème brûlée." Stevens, though, said "I don't think of myself as a liberal at all," and indeed, he is a lifelong registered Republican. On the Circuit Court his record was clearly conservative, and in analyses of Supreme Court rulings over his first decade on the high court he was generally considered a middle-of-the-road moderate. His perspectives did not noticeably change over the years, but the entire Court shifted to the right with the retirement of several liberals on the bench, and their replacement with conservative and moderate jurists, leaving Stevens as a liberal, but only by comparison to his colleagues.

One of the more famous cases during Stevens' tenure was Federal Communications Commission v Pacifica, in which a California radio station was fined for its un-edited airing of George Carlin's famous "seven dirty words" comedy routine. Stevens wrote the majority opinion, upholding the FCC's right to punish the radio station. His logic was that Carlin's naughty language 'invaded' listeners homes, which outweighed the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech.

In other cases, Stevens generally supported abortion rights, affirmative action, and Miranda Rights. He opposed random police roadblocks with drug-sniffing dogs, tax funding for private schools, and the Supreme Court's 2000 ruling installing George W. Bush as President. In his dissent in Bush v. Gore, Stevens wrote, "Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year's Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation's confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law."

He retired at the close of the 2010 Supreme Court session.

Father: Ernest James Stevens (hotel operator)
Mother: Elizabeth Street
Wife: Elizabeth Jane Sheeren (m. Jun-1942, div. 1979)
Son: John Joseph Stevens (d. 1996 cancer)
Daughter: Kathryn Stevens Jedlicka
Daughter: Elizabeth Jane Stevens Sesemann
Daughter: Susan Roberta Stevens
Wife: Maryan Mulholland Simon (m. Jun-1979)

    High School: University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, Chicago, IL
    University: BA, University of Chicago (1941)
    Law School: JD, Northwestern University (1947)
    Teacher: Northwestern University
    Teacher: University of Chicago

    US Supreme Court Justice (1975-2010)
    Law Clerk for Wiley Rutledge (1947-48)
    American College of Trial Lawyers Honorary Fellow
    Chicago Bar Association
    Psi Upsilon Fraternity
    Phi Beta Kappa Society
    Bronze Star
    Funeral: Gerald Ford (2007)
    Risk Factors: Prostate Cancer

Author of books:
Five Chiefs: A Supreme Court Memoir (2011, memoir)


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