Supreme Court

The Pro-Corporate Legacy of Justice John Paul Stevens

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The one-two combination of Justice John Paul Stevens' impending retirement and his recent angry dissent in the much-ballyhooed free speech case Citizens United v. F.E.C. has created an aura of fond remembrance around the geriatric justice. Exhibit A is Jeffrey Toobin's long and very interesting New Yorker profile of Stevens, which features the plaintive subtitle, "What will the Supreme Court be like without its liberal leader?"

At the risk of spoiling all the lovely tributes going on, I'd like to suggest that Stevens' new fans check out his majority opinion in a case that Toobin failed to mention: Kelo v. City of New London, the 2005 decision where Stevens and his most liberal colleagues (plus the "modestly libertarian" Justice Anthony Kennedy) upheld the government's ability to seize private property via eminent domain and then hand the land over to another private party in order to widen the tax base. I've heard a lot recently about how Stevens stood up for "We the People" against the evil corporations in Citizens United, but what about the people who were literally forced out of their homes in New London, Connecticut, so the municipal government could clear their neighborhood and hand it over to a private developer? And let's not forget why the developer wanted that land in the first place: The pharmaceutical corporation Pfizer had built a new research and development center on the adjacent land and the developer wanted to build a fancy new hotel, apartment buildings, and office towers to complement the Pfizer facility, something Justice John Paul Stevens was more than happy to oblige. That's what I'd call a pro-corporate decision.

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  1. Can you imagine throwing a SCOTUS nomination fight into the current DC hatefest?

    Delicious!

    1. Justice “Iron Law” Dean has a nice ring to it.

      1. [blushes]

  2. … and then there are Obama and the congressional Democrats who want to force private citizens to give hundreds of billions of dollars to private health insurance companies.

  3. Especially after I use my Jedi Mind Trick? on Obama and get him to nominate some black, female judge originally from Alabama. The daughter of sharecroppers. She’s a good, politically correct choice. Trust me.

    You don’t need to see her opinions. She’s not the libertarian you’re looking for. Nominate away.

    1. Who’re we talking about?

      1. Sarah Palin, obliquely. Amirite?

  4. John Paul Stevens (who wrote the majority opinion on Kelo), Anthony Kennedy, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer have forever ended any suspicions that they give a shit about the little guys’ rights when the government wants to trample all over them.

    Burn in Hell, John Paul.

  5. Good riddance. I’m sure we’ll just get another mush-brained lackey to replace him, but at least it will be a new mush-brained lackey.

  6. Hey, that’s JUSTICE Mush-brained lackey, sir.

  7. It’s Bill Clinton’s last chance if Congress swings back in November.

    1. I’d like the Dems to burn a pick on someone of Clinton’s age, health and lifestyle.

      1. Are you kidding? Clinton will never die.

        1. He’s like the Velveeta of ex-presidents.

          1. But that Viagra isn’t going to go very well with his heart medication. Right?

            1. The real threat is that he doesn’t call his doctor when he has erections lasting more than four hours.

              1. I bet he does.

                To brag.

  8. I’ve heard a lot recently about how Stevens stood up for “We the People” against the evil corporations in Citizens United, but what about the people who were literally forced out of their homes in New London, Connecticut, so the municipal government could clear their neighborhood and hand it over to a private developer?

    Well obviously “We the People” can’t include those people Damon. Those People are evil monopolist holdouts bent on preventing holy “Progress”. Such is the Wisdom of Old as Revealed onto Chad the Wise.

  9. There is no contradiction here. Kelo reaffirmed the right of the people — through their representatives in city governments, towns, states, school districts, transit agencies, water districts, reclamation bureaus, coastal commissions, power and lighting authorities, and other needful public services, to put together a plan of action that benefits the population as a whole. The fact that a corporation also benefits doesn’t enter into the equation.

    But Citizens United allows corporations to overwhelm the democratic process with campaign contributions, which by definition only help the corporation’s interests, not the welfare of the people at large. If the welfare of the people at large is served by the election of a particular candidate, then the populace will elect him or her even without corporate donations helping him or her.

    1. Go back to the Ku Klux Klan, collectivist.

      1. Collectivist? More like a corporatist.

        His post is giving me flashbacks of The Coming Corporate State.

    2. Hey Forrest – is life like a box of chocolates?

    3. The sky isn’t really brown you’re just full of crap.

    4. This has to be parody. The ridiculous long list of government agencies and authorities and the complete misunderstanding of the Citizens United thing are too perfect.

    5. Your right to be an idiot stops when my fist hits your nose.

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