Document Type


Publication Date



How to sum up a corpus of opinions that spans dozens of legal fields and four decades on the bench? How to make the most sense of a jurisprudence that has always been resistant to classification, by a jurist widely believed to have "no discernible judicial philosophy"? These questions have stirred Justice Stevens' former clerks in recent months. Since his retirement, many of us have been trying to capture in some meaningful if partial way what we found vital and praiseworthy in his approach to the law. There may be something paradoxical about the attempt to encapsulate in a formula the views of someone who was so sensitive to the potential tyranny of labels, to taxonomize the output of someone so skeptical about neat legal categories. There is certainly something reductive about it. Be that as it may, I will try in these pages to contribute to the effort by suggesting that an important clue to Justice Stevens' jurisprudence can be found in his frequent recourse to the notion of judicial "judgment." If one word must be selected to illuminate a life's work, this would be my submission.


Constitutional Law | Judges | Jurisprudence | Law