Newsweek commissioned retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor to interview recently retired Justice John Paul Stevens. While the whole relatively short interview is interesting, as an ex-Republican it made my gut twinge to confront one more example of how the recent domination of the Republican party by conservatives cannibalizes the party’s best legacies, from President’s Lincoln’s fight to defend equal rights up into the modern era.
Here’s their most interesting exchange regarding Citizens United where O’Conner editorializes as well [after the break]:
O’Connor: I suppose the court has had occasion to change its view on certain issues over a period of years. Do you see any on the horizon that you think the court might well reexamine as things go on?
Stevens: Well, you know, Sandra, I dissented in a lot of cases, and I’d like [the court] to reexamine them all [laughs]. I don’t expect them to, but I think they made a serious mistake in the [Citizens United] campaign-finance case, in which they overruled the portion of an opinion you and I jointly authored [on the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law]. And I think you might share my view.
O’Connor: I notice that myself, and when I am asked about it, I often say, “Well, the court overruled part of what I wrote.” And leave it there. It is a source of concern today, the extent of campaign contributions and whether corporations and unions must be held to the [same] standard as an individual. These are tough issues for the nation and the court.
Justice Stevens also presents an interesting though I think weak defense of Senators not querying nominees to the court on what their positions are. My biggest problem is that without such questions we can’t determine whether a justice is able to adapt their positions as they learn or whether they possess a conservative mind-set that has their positions firmly embedded which they’ll defend regardless of where the facts lead. So while I appreciate Justice Stevens’ own inability to take a position with confidence prior to sufficiently delving into the issues, we should learn if that’s because he possesses a fierce desire to be correct or is the nominee obfuscating in order to pose as someone who will honestly judge while actually, perhaps unconsciously, seeking opportunities to advance the unconstitutional aspects of their political ideology as we encounter Justices Scalia, Thomas, Alito, and Roberts nearly always doing on matters most important to the conservative populace.