Quotations by Stevens, John Paul


Time will one day heal the wound to that confidence that will be inflicted by today’s decision. One thing, however, is certain. Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year’s presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the nation’s confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law.

John Paul Stevens (b. 1920) American lawyer, US Supreme Court Justice (1975-2010)
Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98 (2000) [Dissenting]
Added on 6-Aug-13 | Last updated 6-Aug-13
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At bottom, the court’s opinion is thus a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self-government since the founding, and who have fought against the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering since the days of Theodore Roosevelt. It is a strange time to repudiate that common sense. While American democracy is imperfect, few outside the majority of this court would have thought its flaws included a dearth of corporate money in politics.

John Paul Stevens (b. 1920) American lawyer, US Supreme Court Justice (1975-2010)
Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. ___ (2010) [Dissenting]
Added on 20-Aug-13 | Last updated 20-Aug-13
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A democracy cannot function effectively when its constituent members believe laws are being bought and sold.

John Paul Stevens (b. 1920) American lawyer, US Supreme Court Justice (1975-2010)
Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. (2010) [Dissenting]
Added on 13-Aug-13 | Last updated 13-Aug-13
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As a matter of constitutional tradition, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, we presume that governmental regulation of the content of speech is more likely to interfere with the free exchange of ideas than to encourage it. The interest in encouraging freedom of expression in a democratic society outweighs any theoretical but unproven benefit of censorship.

John Paul Stevens (b. 1920) American lawyer, US Supreme Court Justice (1975-2010)
Janet Reno et al. v. ACLU et al. (1997) [Majority Opinion]
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 16-Jul-13
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Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority. It thus exemplifies the purpose behind the Bill of Rights, and of the First Amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation — and their ideas from suppression — at the hand of an intolerant society. The right to remain anonymous may be abused when it shields fraudulent conduct. But political speech by its nature will sometimes have unpalatable consequences, and, in general, our society accords greater weight to the value of free speech than to the dangers of its misuse.

John Paul Stevens (b. 1920) American lawyer, US Supreme Court Justice (1975-2010)
McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission 514 U.S. 334, 357 (1995)
Added on 1-Aug-11 | Last updated 1-Aug-11
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Money is property; it is not speech. Speech has the power to inspire volunteers to perform a multitude of tasks on a campaign trail, on a battleground, or even on a football field. Money, meanwhile, has the power to pay hired laborers to perform the same tasks. It does not follow, however, that the First Amendment provides the same measure of protection to the use of money to accomplish such goals as it provides to the use of ideas to achieve the same results.

John Paul Stevens (b. 1920) American lawyer, US Supreme Court Justice (1975-2010)
Nixon v. Shrink Missouri Government PAC, 528 U.S. 377 (2000) [Concurring]
Added on 16-Jul-13 | Last updated 16-Jul-13
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Just as the right to speak and the right to refrain from speaking are complementary components of a broader concept of individual freedom of mind, so also the individual’s freedom to choose his own creed is the counterpart of his right to refrain from accepting the creed established by the majority.

John Paul Stevens (b. 1920) American lawyer, US Supreme Court Justice (1975-2010)
Wallace v. Jaffree, 472 U.S. 38 (1985) [Majority Opinion]

Full ruling.
Added on 28-Apr-08 | Last updated 16-Jul-13
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