So the soon- to- be- retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens is being praised by the media. They love him. They tell us how great he has been on the Court.
What did I miss?
Here's the deal: The Supreme Court is unique in our system of government. It's unique because it speaks through its written opinions. And those opinions are authored by the individual Justices on the Court. Its not like Congress, where 500 members can hide behind an up & down vote.
So Stevens' record is out there. It's all in his opinions-35 years worth.
Now whether you are liberal, conservative or somewhere in the middle, the truth is that Stevens' opinions on the court are not that memorable. He was not a great writer. His judicial philosophy was not greatly admired, or widely emulated. You never came away from reading a Stevens opinion thinking that you learned something, or that he articulated his position-- whether you agreed with it or not-- very well.
He was a mediocre Supreme Court Justice. Who is known for longevity more than anything else.
And it's not just me saying that. I reached out to several people that read a lot of Supreme Court opinions. They all felt the same way.
If he were a baseball player, he would be a lifetime .260 hitter. With very little power & average speed. Who played in the majors a long time. And when that major leaguer retired, the first thing a fan would think of is not a home run he hit, or a base that he stole, or a defensive gem he made in the field. The first thing they would say is: "he played in the majors a long time."
And that sums up Justice Stevens' career.