At 89, Influential Justice Stevens Isn't Budging

Oldest Supreme is vindicated as dissents become majorities
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 27, 2009 6:50 AM CDT
At 89, Influential Justice Stevens Isn't Budging
Associate Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, center, smiles as he chats with Chief Justice John G. Roberts, right, at the Supreme Court in Washington. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is at left.    (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

John Paul Stevens turned 89 last week, and the senior associate justice of the Supreme Court has lived to see many of his dissenting opinions eventually become the majority during his 33 years on the court. Stevens—who has given no indications of impending retirement—has led a number of slow-burning liberal victories on a right-leaning court, writes the Los Angeles Times.

In 1981, for instance, Stevens dissented in a case about car searches during arrests—and last Tuesday, 28 years later, the justice wrote for the majority that the 4th Amendment forbids such searches. One law professor marveled at the ability of Stevens—often described as a "loner" in his first years on the court—“to turn his lonely dissents into majority opinions in the fullness of time." (More John Paul Stevens stories.)

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