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a little kindness goes a long way
July 17, 2019

Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who served the bench between 1975 and 2010 and died on Tuesday at age 99, was known for playing a major role during a crucial era for the Court and his evolving legal views.

Described by The New York Times as a "low-key Republican" who became an "ardent champion" of the court's liberal wing, Stevens wrote the majority opinions in major cases, including one that prevented military commissions from conducting trials for Guantánamo detainees and another declaring that the Constitution does not permit executing the mentally disabled.

But the bow tie-wearing justice wasn't held in high regard for his jurisprudence alone. Stevens was also reportedly known around the court for being a nice guy, treating others "with sensitivity and respect," the Times reports.

One former law clark, Christopher Eisgruber, wrote in a 1993 essay about Stevens' actions during a party for new law clerks. An older male justice instructed one of the few female clerks present at the party to serve coffee before Stevens arrived. When he got there, Stevens walked up to the young clerk and thanked her for serving the coffee. Then he made her stop. "I think it's my turn now," he said before taking over the job.

Read more about the heartwarming anecdote and Stevens' legacy at The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell

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