Justice Stevens, the Writer

13 Pages Posted: 1 May 2018 Last revised: 6 May 2018

See all articles by Sonja West

Sonja West

University of Georgia School of Law

Date Written: January 1, 2017


In any discussion about United States Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, you're likely to hear him labeled in a variety of ways--as a brilliant “judge's judge,” the highly successful leader of the Court's more liberal wing, the prolific “maverick,” and a shrewd questioner from the bench. You might also hear him described simply as a polite and humble Midwesterner, bow-tie aficionado and diehard Cubs fan. Yet while Justice Stevens is and was all of these things, there is another important title he richly deserves yet often does not receive--Justice Stevens, the excellent writer.

This essay strives to close that gap and celebrate the unsung writing talents of Justice Stevens. This is by no means meant to be a serious linguistic study of his writings, nor is it an exhaustive overview. My goal, rather, is simply to highlight his skills as a wordsmith with some of the most memorable examples. What follows is a collection of snippets of Justice Stevens's writing drawn from my own reservoir of personal favorites and an informal survey of other former Stevens clerks.

Keywords: Supreme Court, Justice Stevens, jurisprudence, writing

Suggested Citation

West, Sonja, Justice Stevens, the Writer (January 1, 2017). 94 Wash. U. L Rev. 1417 (2017), University of Georgia School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2018-18, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3171651

Sonja West (Contact Author)

University of Georgia School of Law ( email )

225 Herty Drive
Athens, GA 30602
United States
(706) 542-5145 (Phone)
(706) 542-5556 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.uga.edu/academics/profiles/west.html

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