John Paul Stevens: Kelo Was No Big Deal

In his new memoir Five Chiefs, retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens comments on a variety of significant cases that came his way during his three decades on the Court. Noticeably absent from that list is Kelo v. City of New London, the notorious 2005 eminent domain ruling where Stevens upheld the bulldozing of a nice neighborhood so that the local government—working in cahoots with the Pfizer Corporation—could hand the land over to a private developer. Speaking to Wall Street Journal reporter Jess Bravin last week, Stevens broke his silence about the controversial case, though his lame defense is unlikely to persuade many critics:

"It's the most unpopular opinion I ever wrote, no doubt about it," Justice Stevens said in an interview. He said he empathized with Ms. Kelo, "but the legal issue would have been exactly the same if it had been a gas station or a pool hall."

In other words, Stevens would let the government have the same free rein to use public power for private gain whether or not the unfortunate property owner happened to be a sympathetic victim. Duly noted.

As for the national backlash against his ruling, Stevens admits that it has put a slight damper on his social life:

"I had people at a bridge game stop me and ask, 'How could you have written that opinion? We thought you were a good judge, but we learned otherwise,' " he said.

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  • Suki||

    If this is the law, then we might as well be as honest as China, with the government holding all deeds and people only lease land from the government as long as they are doing what the government wants with the land.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Fucking mercantilism! How do they work?

  • Juice||

    This is the arrangement in a lot of countries, even countries counted high on the list as "economically free."

  • Hugh Akston||

    If John Paul Stevens has lived one day after writing the Kelo decision without being hit by some kind of flying produce, then we know there is no real justice.

  • Forgettable Paul||

    then we know there is no real justice.

    Are you suggesting Stevens is fake?

  • Hugh Akston||

    No, then I would have said that there is no real Justice.

    Which would imply that there is no spoon, and that the oppressive malefactors in the federal government are not uniquely and particularly evil petty tyrants, but merely localized manifestations of this nation's sick desire for slow, methodical self-destruction.

  • ||

    Are you telling me I can dodge produce?

  • ||

    One thing about Bush. When he uncannily dodged that shoe, I wondered for a moment whether he was some kind of superalien.

  • ||

    There is no shoe, ProL.

  • ||

    Yes, or that. Movies aside, he's like some sort of Zen master. I think he must've gone to live with some monks in the Himalayas somewhere when he was supposed to be killing people in Vietnam, and we got a brief, if inadvertent, look at his real abilities during the shoe incident.

    The implications of this are staggering.

  • Hugh Akston||

    I'm saying that when you're appointed to a no-accountability life-tenure position in the nations highest judicial authority, you won't have to.

  • ||

    WHOA

  • Forgettable Paul||

    Epic win.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Call your congressman, tell him to sack up and impeach the old bastard.

  • Morpheus||

    No, Neo. I'm trying to tell you that when you're ready, you won't have to.

  • ||

    Damon, props on "cahoots."

  • oncogenesis||

    Eat a bag of dicks, Justice John Paul Stevens!

  • Rectal||

    Yum!

  • Colin||

    If there were justice in the world some local government would usurp Stevens' property and put a McDonald's on it.

  • ||

    ^^This^^ Only it would be for a nature preserve. No point in punishing the old bastard's neighbors. I bet they hate him as much as we do.

  • ||

    It was tried on David Souter's home. I would have voted to seize the prick's house.

    http://www.commondreams.org/he.....122-03.htm

  • Matrix||

    Yeah. I remember that case and the outrage that ensued. But, the courts do not care. They'll keep gutting our private property rights until we're all just happy to have our tiny plot that ol' Uncle Sam, in all his benevolence, granted us to rest our weary little heads.

  • ||

    It's one of the reasons I'm agnostic about the existence of a god. The lack of recognizable justice to us mere mortals is striking. Telling us it will come later and then saying forgiveness comes to those that ask for it, well, that's not good enough for me. The only positive to that theory is the old coot thinks he did the right thing so is unlikely to ask for it, unless he does the catchall "sins." Thou shalt not steal, motherfucker, even on someone else's behalf.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    I'm sure Stevens ruefully shakes his liver-spotted head every time Kelo comes up, and sighs a big, exasperated sigh at having to try to explain - once again - to all those people who simply are not as enlightened, educated and insightful as he is, how the Kelo decision really was simply pre-ordained and fully contemplated by the Framers and ratifiers of the Constitution. It is, after all, exactly what James Madison would have wanted. The rest of us simply are too ignorant to understand it or perhaps are of such inferior intellect that it is beyond our ability to comprehend.

    We should be so thankful we have him to do these things for us.

  • wareagle||

    in doing so, he gives credence to the notion that no one, not even SC Justices, should have lifetime appointments.

  • Forgettable Paul||

    Threadjack: NPR reports that Ayn Rand's ideas have taken over the world. Glibertarians are on the march, and nothing stands in their way.

    http://www.npr.org/2011/11/14/.....rugged-off

  • ||

    Yeah, I heard part of that this AM. No such thing as bad publicity, eh?

  • Forgettable Paul||

    What I found funny about it is, they did a reasonable job of sounding objective (ha!), but you could sense the allusions to pathology in the tone.

  • ||

    "It's the most unpopular opinion I ever wrote, no doubt about it," Justice Stevens said in an interview. He said he empathized with Ms. Kelo, "but the legal issue would have been exactly the same if it had been a gas station or a pool hall."

    And you have been dead wrong in those cases as well.

    Get him off the bench, he doesn't even understand what the case was about in the first place.

  • ||

    He's retired.

  • ||

    Ah, that's right.

    Does stare decisis apply to decisions made by the stupid or insane?

  • ||

    Abslutely, 100%.

  • ||

    The Court really isn't all that deferential to past decisions, anyway. All that doctrine really means is that you shouldn't randomly change the law of the land just because the political tenor of the Court drifts, etc. They overturn prior decisions or parts of decisions (or even just ignore prior decisions) with a fair amount of frequency.

  • Forgettable Paul||

    So Kelo is here to stay.

  • ||

    And the court puts its fingure to the political winds. I would imagine the justices who dissented are having a good "I told you so" at Stevens' expense. I am also sure that bothers his planet sized ego.

  • Len||

    Aren't they all?

  • ||

    No SF. He understands the issue. He just doesn't understand people's anger. He thinks they are just angry because the plaintiffs happened to be attractive. That if it had been someone who was unappealling people wouldn't be so angry.

    He is calling the critics of the decision stupid. He doesn't even give them credit for standing on principle. Yes, he really is that much of an old turd.

  • ||

    No, what I'm getting at is that he thinks people are angry because it was a private residence. People (at least the marginally informed ones) object to eminent domain being used to transfer property from one private individual to another individual or non-public corporation. If he grasped what people were angry about, he'd understand that neither a gas station nor a pool hall should be taken by the government and given to another private party either.

    He talking about apples and oranges, but he's doing it while waving a banana around as a visual aid.

  • ||

    Ok. We are both saying the same thing. I love how he whines about it interfering with his social life. Poor baby.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Sugarfree: I suppose you're right - he truly believes that his opponents have an emotional reaction based on a sympathetic plaintiff, and that if only the case had involved Bob's Pool Hall, nobody would have cared that the govt was taking away Bob's property and given it to a large and wealthy corporation (which then abandoned the area). No, the public would have shrugged and said, "ha ha, so much for Bob!"

  • Lord Humungus||

    This is old-school, pre-Kelo here, but the city in the 90s tried to buy up an entire block of houses just to add some parking. One guy adamantly refused to take the buy out. So in the end, they built the entire parking lot around the guys house. So there was this small depression-era home surrounded by black iron-wrought fencing, and then yards and yards of fresh blacktop.

    Sadly when the guy croaked, the inheritors sold the property off.

  • ||

    I hope this douchebag loses all his friends.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    You presume he has them.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    He is calling the critics of the decision stupid. He doesn't even give them credit for standing on principle.

    Plus, it almost ruined a bridge game.

  • ||

    Poor Old Man! I bet a ruined bridge game is almost as terrible as being evicted out of your own home by the government...

  • Urban Planner||

    As for the national backlash against his ruling, Stevens admits that it has put a slight damper on his social life:

    If I had my way, I can think of a way to put an even bigger damper on his social life.

  • Mensan||

    It's a pretty sad commentary when random bridge players know Constitutional law better than a Supreme Court Justice.

  • spencer||

    That's ok, he got them back when he and his partner bid 6 hearts and took the game. (this was not duplicate bridge, so he was a benefit of the luck of the deal here.)

  • ||

    "I had people at a bridge game stop me and ask, 'How could you have written that opinion? We thought you were a good judge, but we learned otherwise,' " he said.

    Ooooo, a good, hard shunning. That'll learn him.

    See what polite society gives us? I'll take tarring and feathering and/or public stocks any day.

  • ||

    Scarlett letters.

  • ||

    Scarlett Johansson letters? What does that mean?

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Insert joke about A versus D-

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Lest we forget, these idiots get their appointment because they're the ones can make it through confirmation. If they were great legal minds, they wouldn't be on the bench.

  • Elena Kagan||

    PRESENT!

  • Len||

    There you have it. Far too many act like the process for putting justices on the SC bench is some mystical event ensuring only those with the greatest integrity and wisdom, rather than the political process it is. Determined by a congress that knows even less about the constitution they are vetting justices for, or don't care.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Oh, they care - in the wrong direction.

  • Han||

    The government should just take Justice Stevens' life and use his remains to fuel a school.

  • jtuf||

    Eminent domain abuse is an outrage.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Hey, John Paul Stevens, you ought to go break your back by trying to suck your own dick or something. I would be sooo happy. You're a dirty old man and a power slut.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Also, I'm glad to hear that your former cocktail party under the table gambling friends don't want your wrinkled ass around no more. I might want to kick it with them some time, they seem to have principle.

  • ||

    Worst Supreme Court nominee by a Republican President EVAH !!!!

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