In a recent interview with The New York Times regarding his upcoming memoir, former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens shares what he contends are the three worst court decisions to come down during his long tenure. His first choice, unsurprisingly, is District of Columbia v. Heller, the 2008 ruling that finally codified the Second Amendment as an individual right.
Stevens told the Times that he even took “an extraordinary step in trying to head off the decision,” preemptively sending the other justices a probable dissent to convince them to change their positions. “The combination of its actual practical impact by increasing the use of guns in the country and also the legal reasoning, which I thought was totally unpersuasive,” he says, “persuaded me that the case is just about as bad as any in my tenure.”
Stevens doesn’t even attempt to hide the political motivation behind his argument. Earlier this year, in fact, Stevens implored Americans to do what he couldn’t while on the court, and repeal the Second Amendment. Stevens quotes former Chief Justice Burger, who in 1991 claimed that activists had perpetrated “one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.”
Both these justices rely on an expedient revisionist history to make their claims. This effort was spearheaded by left-wing historians who attempted to retroactively dismiss the ubiquitous presence of guns in American life and the role firearms played in the rise of a nation. It was taken up by anti-firearm activists and journalists who have used that revisionist history to dismiss the overwhelming evidence that the founding generation believed individual Americans had an inherent right to bear those arms.
by David Harsanyi