U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stevens Will Leave a Legacy of Jury Trial Protection When He Retires This Summer

As of tomorrow it will be one week since Justice John Paul Stevens officially announced his retirement from the United States Supreme Court effective at the close of the current term this summer.  The announcement was not a surprise given the long and successful career of Justice Stevens.  He turns 90 in five days.  Supreme Court historians will debate Justice Stevens’ legacy for years to come.  Writers and pundits have already started to evaluate his legacy.  (To learn more about a handful of landmark cases in which Justice Stevens played a pivotal role, you can read a Newsweek blog at:  http://blog.newsweek.com/blogs/thegaggle/archive/2010/04/09/john-paul-stevens-legacy-in-five-cases.aspx).  Overall, Justice Stevens is likely to be remembered for his reasoned approach to civil liberties, civil rights, and the right to trial by jury in both criminal and civil cases.  Given Justice Stevens cared deeply about applying the wisdom of the constitution’s founders to the issues of modern times, it is appropriate to invoke the words of John Adams in 1774, who said, “Representative government and trial by jury are the heart and lungs of liberty.”

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