Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens passed away Tuesday at the age of 99-years-old. Stevens was appointed to the court by Republican President Gerald Ford in 1975. Almost 35 years later he retired, in 2010.
Stevens was born on the South Side of Chicago in 1920 and graduated from the University of Chicago in 1941, and Northwestern Law School in 1947. He died after complications he had following a stroke.
“Retired Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, John Paul Stevens, died this evening at Holy Cross Hospital in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, of complications following a stroke he suffered on July 15. He passed away peacefully with his daughters by his side. He was 99 years old,” the Supreme Court announced.
Although Stevens was appointed by a Republican President, he was known for his liberal leanings and votes throughout his tenure.
At the end of his life, Justice Stevens and Donald Trump went back and forth on a variety of issues such as gun control, the Supreme Court and Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Here’s what you need to know about their relationship:
1. In 2018, Justice Stevens Wrote an Op-Ed Calling for the Repeal of the Second Amendment
- Following the Parkland shooting, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote an op-ed in The New York Times that encouraged the repeal of the second amendment.
“Rarely in my lifetime have I seen the type of civic engagement schoolchildren and their supporters demonstrated in Washington,” Stevens wrote following the mass-mobilization of the March For Our Lives movement. “These demonstrations demand our respect. They reveal the broad public support for legislation to minimize the risk of mass killings of schoolchildren and others in our society.”
Stevens argued that the NRA (National Rifle Association) has used the second amendment as a propaganda machine to stay afloat.
He mentions the “ruling, in District of Columbia v. Heller, that there was an individual right to bear arms. I was among the four dissenters.”
“That decision — which I remain convinced was wrong and certainly was debatable — has provided the N.R.A. with a propaganda weapon of immense power. Overturning that decision via a constitutional amendment to get rid of the Second Amendment would be simple and would do more to weaken the N.R.A.’s ability to stymie legislative debate and block constructive gun control legislation than any other available option,” Stevens stated in his opinion piece.
2. Trump Took to Twitter to Emphatically Reject Stevens’ Proposal
It didn’t take long for President Trump to condemn the opinion piece written by Justice Stevens, and he did it via his favorite medium, Twitter.
“THE SECOND AMENDMENT WILL NEVER BE REPEALED! As much as Democrats would like to see this happen, and despite the words yesterday of former Supreme Court Justice Stevens, NO WAY,” Trump tweeted.
It also gave Trump a chance to push a political agenda and announce his plans for the Supreme Court.
“We need more Republicans in 2018 and must ALWAYS hold the Supreme Court!,” Trump added.
The NRA also released a statement responding to Stevens’ op-ed.
“The men and women of the National Rifle Association, along with the majority of the American people and the Supreme Court, believe in the Second Amendment right to self-protection and we will unapologetically continue to fight to protect this fundamental freedom,” the statement said.
3. Justice Stevens Said He Hopes Trump Does Not Do Too Much Damage to the Courts
Earlier this year, Justice Stevens sat down with CNN to discuss Trump and the decisions he has made about the Supreme Court.
“I hope he won’t do too much damage,” the liberal justice told CNN’s John Berman on the program “New Day.”
Stevens also disagreed with other Democrats who have proposed court-packing and enlarging the number of members on the Supreme Court.
“I don’t think they should do that,” Stevens said. “I think in time the court will straighten itself out. It may take longer, but I don’t think the answer is increasing the number of justices.”
“I think he often speaks about them as Obama judges and other kinds of judges,” Stevens said. “But I think (Chief Justice) John Roberts was dead right when he said that there are only one kind of judges and they’re all working for the federal government.”
4. Two Months Ago, Stevens Told the Wall Street Journal That Trump ‘Has to Comply with Subpoenas’
Just two months before his death, Justice Stevens was critical of Trump especially when it came to Trump exercising certain powers.
Stevens accused Trump of exceeding his powers in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, about two months ago.
“The President is exercising powers that do not really belong to him,” Stevens said referring to the battle over Trump’s financial records. “I mean, he has to comply with subpoenas and things like that.”
Stevens also said it is “pretty clear” on how House Democrats should have handled that particular situation and how the Supreme Court could have potentially weighed in.
“I wouldn’t want to predict that anybody’s going to take the incorrect view. But certainly, the correct view is pretty clear,” he said.
5. Justice Stevens Also Suggested Brett Kavanaugh Should Not Have Been Approved to Sit on the Supreme Court
Back in October, The Palm Beach Post reported that Justice Stevens suggested Brett Kavanaugh should not have been approved by the Senate to sit on the Supreme Court.
He came to this conclusion after Kavanaugh’s testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Stevens said there is “merit” in the criticism that Kavanaugh “has demonstrated a potential bias involving enough potential (litigation) before the court that he would not be able to perform his full responsibilities.”
“The senators should really pay attention to it for the good of the court,” Stevens added. “It’s not healthy to get a new justice that can only do a part-time job.”
To the same audience in Boca Raton, Florida, Stevens said he admired and previously praised Kavanaugh for his opinion on whether or not Citizens United should be struck down.
“I thought that (Kavanaugh) wrote a very persuasive opinion” on that subject, Stevens said, “and as a matter of fact I put his picture in the book to illustrate my admiration for it.”
“At that time, I thought (Kavanaugh) had definitely the qualifications … to sit on the Supreme Court and should be confirmed if he was ever selected,” Stevens added.
But Stevens’ mind was ultimately changed after he saw him in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, calling into question his bias.
“But I think that his performance during the hearings caused me to change my mind,” Justice Stevens said.
President Trump has yet to comment on the passing of Justice John Paul Stevens.