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Awards for

        John Paul Stevens: An Independent Life

  First in Biography: Midwest Independent Publishers

      First in Biography: Society of Midland Authors
(click on organization name for more)    
Justice John Paul Stevens talks to Bill Barnhart about his own book project, why he resigned from the Supreme Court and more.

Gene Schlickman (left) and Bill Barnhart hold a seminar on Justice Stevens: An Independent Life  in the Chicago City Council Chamber

                                            From "A Supreme Difference"
                       By Anthony Lewis, New York Review of Books, 6/10/10

      John Paul Stevens, who is about to retire after thirty-five years on the Supreme Court, is at the opposite pole from Scalia as a judge. Far from having an ideological agenda or a rigid theory of constitutional adjudication, he is a powerful example of the independent mind. I think his closest recent model is Justice John Marshall Harlan; like Harlan he is often unpredictable. Reading a Harlan or Stevens opinion, one could sometimes imagine the judge wrestling his way, without a preconception, through the facts and the law to a conclusion.

      Stevens rejects the proposition that the open phrases of the Constitution have specific meanings fixed in 1787. When the Court changed its previous view and held that execution of anyone under eighteen was an unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment, he said: “That our understanding of the Constitution does change from time to time has been settled since John Marshall breathed life into its text.”

      The authors of John Paul Stevens: An Independent Life are not Supreme Court specialists like Biskupic, who is a longtime reporter at the Court. Bill Barnhart was a columnist and editor for the Chicago Tribune for nearly thirty years; Gene Schlickman is a retired lawyer who served eight terms in the Illinois legislature. They have filled out their knowledge of the Supreme Court with diligent research and interviews. But their special contribution is the light they shine on Stevens’s years before he went on the Court.

      One consistent theme in Stevens’s judicial life has been resistance to concentrated power. He wrote for the Court in 1998 when it struck down the line-item veto, which had effectively transferred power from Congress to the executive. And he wrote for the majority in 2004 in Rasul v. Bush, rejecting the Bush administration’s claim that it could detain prisoners at Guantánamo indefinitely, without judicial review by means of petitions for habeas corpus. The issues in the two cases were very different. The fear of power was the same—and the same fear that motivated many of the delegates at the Convention of 1787.

      Barnhart and Schlickman rely too much on citations of law review articles and other individual comments. But they also did a lot of their own interviewing and research, and they have produced an intriguing look at a judge little known to the public but crucial to our constitutional structure.

In December 2010, The New York Review of Books was the first venue for Justice John Paul Stevens to express himself in retirement on vital issues of our time. His topic was the death penalty. Click here for his article.

Justice Stevens and Scott Pelley of "60 Minutes" in front of Stevens' boyhood home in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood. Click here to view the November 28 broadcast.
Photo courtesy
of Amy and Andrew Gelman


Jeffrey Toobin, author of The Nine

Justice John Paul Stevens combines a towering intellect with courageous independence.  Bill Barnhart and Gene Schlickman combine their exhaustive research with insightful analysis to give readers a splendid biography of the Supreme Court’s most respected member.”
Newton N. Minow, former Federal
Communications Commission chairman

“An excellent, well written, and fascinating book that does a fabulous job of presenting Justice Stevens’s biography in all its complexity and multiple dimensions. I learned a remarkable amount about Justice Stevens that I had not known before.”
—Bernard Harcourt, professor of law and professor of political science, The University of Chicago.

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