I finally got around to reading Justice Stevens’s “5 Chiefs.” My reaction? Yaaaawwwwnnn.
For example, there is a 5 page discussion about his disagreement with Justices O’Connors, Kennedy, and Souter’s decision to move the conference table in the conference room. With the new location, there is less free space for the Justices to schmooze over coffee and cakes during breaks. Stevens believes this will negatively impact deliberations. I’m not kidding you. And that was one of the more interesting inside looks at the Court.
Perhaps the portion I dislike the most about the book are the numerous sour grapes JPS drops.
For example, he greatly laments the fact that Justice Thomas replaced Justice Marshall. I think that is a fair sentiment. But Justice Stevens proceeds to say, if Justice Marshall was still on the Court, several 5-4 opinions would have come out the other way.
A few problems there. First, he glosses over the Bill Brennan for David Souter swap. It could have been much, much worse (for him).
Second, he forgets all the times that AMK or SDO swung with him. Seldom if ever was CT the decisive 5th vote. That is just silly.
But perhaps the most bizarre part is when Justice Stevens said District of Columbia v. Heller would have come out differently if Justice Marshall, and not Justice Thomas voted.
Marshall died on January 24, 1993, 15 years before D.C. v. Heller was decided. Are we to speculate how Zombie Thurgood Marshall would have voted? What an asinine argument.
Anyway, I would not recommend the book. There is really just not that much of interest. And the tone is one of restrained pomposity. JPS is brilliant at proclaiming how he is right and everyone else is wrong in the most humble tones. It is really an art.