Already, the mainstream news media is starting to re-gurgitate retired SCOTUS justice John Paul Stevens’ opinion on gun control, as related once again in his newly published memoir. They seem to think this old news is new ammunition in its war against gun rights in alliance with the Democratic Party. (Note: ethical journalists are not supposed to be allied with any party. I may not have mentioned this in the last 24 hours.)
Bloviating about Columbia v. Heller, the 2008 decision holding that the Second Amendment created an individual right to bear arms, Stevens calls the ruling “unquestionably the most clearly incorrect decision” rendered while he was on the Court. And this proves—what? Stevens dissented in that case. His view lost. The fact that he dissented was significant when he was on the Court. That as a retired justice a decade later (who is commenting on current Court rulings from the sidelines more openly than any previous justice, a breach of professionalism and ethics) he really, really thinks he was right though a majority of his colleagues on the Court did not, should be at most a footnote somewhere on the ABA Journal’s gossip page. Instead, we will see it everywhere as “new evidence” and authority that there really isn’t a right to bear arms.
Was there widespread publicity when retired Justice Byron White wrote that his dissent in Roe v. Wade was right and the decision was wrong? No, for two reasons: White observed the traditional respect for the Court requiring that ex-Justices not snipe at past decisions after they retire., and nobody in the news media would try to hype a dissent against abortion rights.
This doesn’t even get to the sad reality that Stevens’ arguments regarding gun rights are juvenile and emotional, essentially belonging to the popular “Do something!” ilk. Continue reading