Ann Coulter looks at John Paul Stevens’ (and his apologists’), now accepted as gospel on the left, assertion that it was the Court that changed, not him:
…Stevens’ claim that he hasn’t moved left, the court has moved right, if stated during a mental competence hearing, would have earned him a straitjacket and a handful of Thorazine.
But because Stevens’ self-characterization comports with the legal left’s position that the Supreme Court’s failure to enact the entire platform of the Green Party constitutes “conservative judicial activism,” it has been reverently repeated.
It’s true that on a few issues, Stevens didn’t change. He has long found any religious practice not crushed by the government to be an “establishment of religion.” Stevens has also never been an enthusiast of tenuous claims to free speech rights, voting to uphold city restrictions on strip clubs in 1976 and voting to uphold a law that prohibited the burning of the American flag in 1989.
But on many other issues, such as race discrimination, Stevens swung so far to the left that his earlier opinions would be unrecognizable as having been written by the same man.
In 1978, Stevens was not only in the majority in University of California Regents v. Bakke, but he wrote the opinion holding that the school’s race-based admissions program violated Title VII and ordering the university to admit Bakke.
In another case of government race-based classifications, Fullilove v. Klutznick (1980), Stevens ridiculed the idea of race-based “remedies” being applied to every ethnic group under the sun…
Unlike blacks, who were “dragged to this country in chains to be sold in slavery,” Stevens said “the ‘Spanish-speaking’ subclass came voluntarily, frequently without invitation, and the Indians, the Eskimos and the Aleuts had an opportunity to exploit America’s resources before the ancestors of most American citizens arrived.”
Now fast-forward to 2003, when the court considered the race-based admissions policy at the University of Michigan. The school automatically awarded 20 points — one-fifth of the total points needed for admission -– to every minority, including not only blacks, but also Hispanics, Indians, Eskimos and Aleuts.
This time, affirmative action for Aleuts was just peachy with Stevens, who came up with a ludicrous procedural objection to the lawsuit, basically concluding that no one ever has standing to sue for race discrimination in college admissions…
That’s quite a change from the Justice Stevens of Fullilove, who compared government affirmative action programs to Nazi policies, saying if the government “is to make a serious effort to define racial classes by criteria that can be administered objectively, it must study precedents such as the First Regulation to the Reich’s Citizenship Law of Nov. 14, 1935,” translated in Volume 4 of “Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression.”