Our Senior Justice
It is rare for a Supreme Court Justice to grant a reporter an exclusive interview. In fact, it is rare for a Justice to make any press statements at all. But, Jeffrey Toobin clearly has the clout and respect necessary to get through those (metaphorically, if not physically) locked marble doors. The March 22nd, 2010 edition of the New Yorker, features a lengthy Toobin piece, profiling Associate Justice John Paul Stevens. The piece balances a retrospective on Justice Stevens's time on the Court with some of his current reflections on his tenure, the state of the Supreme Court, and his future.
While court-watchers have been more-or-less convinced that Justice Stevens will retire this summer, Toobin's article reintroduces uncertainty as it quotes Stevens saying "I have my options open still . . . I'll have to decide soon." Justice Stevens confirms that he will retire within the next three years, but indicates that he has not yet made a final decision about whether he will hang around for another term.
Clearly, this statement will not deter those who are preparing for a vacancy from continuing to do so, but it does add some excitement (anxiety?) into the mix. Instead of simply waiting for an announcement of retirement, we are left on the edge of our seats, wondering whether that announcement will actually come.
Aside from the understandably-distracting assertion that Stevens is unsure about his retirement, the profile is an interesting and engaging survey of Justice Stevens's life experiences and their impact on his jurisprudence. I highly recommend taking time to learn from Toobin about the "Court's senior Justice, in every respect."