Shakespeare Debate Splits Supreme Court

Stevens finds alternate author theory beyond a reasonable doubt
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 18, 2009 8:08 AM CDT
Shakespeare Debate Splits Supreme Court
A newly discovered portrait of William Shakespeare is seen in central London, March 9, 2009. The portrait is believed to be almost the only authentic image of the writer made from life.   (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

John Paul Stevens and Antonin Scalia don’t agree often, but the justices are united on one case: Neither believes Shakespeare’s plays could possibly have been written by a hick like William Shakespeare. Stevens has even written papers on the topic, and searched the Bard’s home for clues. “The evidence…is beyond reasonable doubt,” he tells the Wall Street Journal. But his theory—that Edward de Vere, the 17th earl of Oxford, penned the plays—isn’t a popular one.

“I’m not impressed with the Oxfordian theory,” says Anthony Kennedy, who, together with Stephen Breyer, believes in the guy from Stratford. No other justice would rule on the case, so the Journal turned to retired justice—and frequent swing vote—Sandra Day O’Connor. “I’m not going to jump into this and be decisive,” she said, but when pressed added, “It might well have been someone other than our Stratford man.” (More William Shakespeare stories.)

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