Self-Portrait in a Complex Mirror: Reflections on The Making of a Justice: Reflections on My First 94 Years by John Paul Stevens
UVA Law Faculty Affiliations
Justice Stevens showed extraordinary independence in a branch of government and in a profession immersed in rules. He wrote over 600 dissents and 375 concurring opinions, more separate opinions than any justice in history. His independence, however, raises several pointed questions: Independence from what? And with allegiance to what principles? No individual, let alone a lawyer or a judge, would admit to a lack of independence. So does Stevens’ independence really distinguish him from others in the same profession? This review attempts an answer to these questions in three parts: first, in examining Stevens’ personal and professional background and how that might have influenced his decisions as a judge; second, in accounting for the growing salience of the positions he took over his career; and third, in assessing the lessons from his long tenure as a justice.