Speaking Truth to the Supreme Court

Linda Greenhouse- NYT Op-Ed
Next Monday, retired Justice John Paul Stevens turns 95. still speaking truth to the powerful institution on which his tenure was the third longest in history…In his final term on the court, Justice Stevens was a vigorous dissenter from the Citizens United decision, which opened the door to unlimited corporate campaign spending

Justice Stevens offered this single sentence: “Neither the First Amendment nor any provision of this Constitution shall be construed to prohibit the Congress or any state from imposing reasonable limits on the amount of money that candidates for public office, or their supporters, may spend in election campaigns.”

The proposed campaign finance amendment is one of the “Six Amendments” in the book by that name that Justice Stevens published last year. Another would ban capital punishment by adding to the Eighth Amendment the five words highlighted here:

“Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments such as the death penalty inflicted.”

And another five words that he proposes to add to the Second Amendment would have the effect of overturning the court’s 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, from which Justice Stevens dissented: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms when serving in the Militia shall not be infringed.”

Another of his proposed amendments would ban political gerrymandering of congressional and state legislative districts by specifying that “the interest in enhancing or preserving the political power of the party in control” was not the sort of “neutral criterion” that could justify a departure from compact and contiguous districts. “I am persuaded that political gerrymandering played a major role in the events that led to the shutdown of the federal government in October 2013,” Justice Stevens wrote. (His two other proposed amendments deal with problems in state-federal relations created by the court’s recent federalism decisions.)

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