“Six Amendments” — Stevens Stirs the Pot

"Six Amendments" -- Stevens Stirs the Pot

Supreme Court justices routinely serve well into their golden years and fade from public view once they leave the bench.

Two of the three living retired justices, Sandra Day O’Connor and David Souter, have followed that model. Souter, retired in 2009, went home to New Hampshire and has pretty well disappeared. O’Connor, who stepped aside in 2006, stays busy teaching and promoting “merit selection” programs for state court judges; she’s also written several books.

But the third living retiree, John Paul Stevens, is a bit of a maverick. Now 94, Stevens is out this month with a book, Six Amendments, that proposes important changes to the Constitution, a document he’s spent most of his adult life studying and writing about. He’s also giving provocative interviews, attacking the court’s 2010 Citizens United decision on campaign finance — his dissent there was Stevens’ last major opinion — and most recently disclosing that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 81, has sought his advice about when she should retire.

Appointed by President Gerald Ford, a Republican, Stevens evolved during his time on the bench into the leader of the court’s liberal wing. The constitutional revisions he lays out in Six Amendments touch on several issues of particular interest to Common Cause, including campaign finance and partisan gerrymandering. And because they come from a retired justice, Stevens’ ideas are getting a lot of press attention.

To learn more about Stevens’ proposals, check out:

Excerpt: Justice John Paul Stevens’ “Six Amendments’ — ABC News, 4/18

Change the Constitution in Six Easy Steps? It Won’t Be That Simple, Justice Stevens — The Daily Beast, 4/20

Former Justice Stevens wants to change Constitution — Detroit Free Press, 4/21

How John Paul Stevens Would Amend the Constitution — The American Prospect, 4/11