Justice Stevens Calls On History He Lived
Stevens still has a long way to go if he wants to catch Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., who was 90 when he retired from the court in 1932. But he has already started invoking his considerable life experience to buttress his opinions.
On Monday, Stevens dissented in the case of the Alaska teenager who was suspended for displaying a "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" banner at a school event. While a majority of the court said the Constitution does not protect pro-drug student speech, Stevens took the historic view.
Harking back to Prohibition, which began three months before Stevens's birth and ended a month before he turned 13 in 1933, Stevens compared the current marijuana ban to the abandoned alcohol ban and urged a respectful hearing for those who suggest "however inarticulately" that the ban is "futile" and that marijuana should be legalized, taxed and regulated instead of prohibited:
"[T]he current dominant opinion supporting the war on drugs in general, and our anti-marijuana laws in particular, is reminiscent of the opinion that supported the nationwide ban on alcohol consumption when I was a student. While alcoholic beverages are now regarded as ordinary articles of commerce, their use was then condemned with the same moral fervor that now supports the war on drugs."
comments powered by Disqus
- King Tutankhamun did not die in chariot crash, virtual autopsy reveals
- Easter Island’s ancient inhabitants weren’t so isolated after all
- Turin shroud was made for medieval Easter ritual, historian says
- Japanese Village Grappling With Wartime Sins Comes Under Attack
- Gestapo Imposter Tricked Nazi Sympathizers in WWII
- Turning West, Historians Take a Wider View of Early America
- History to Launch Online Course for College Credit
- 33.3 million viewers tuned in for 'The Roosevelts' documentary series
- Eric Foner debunks Underground Railroad myth
- Juan Cole claims the Arab Spring is still promising. Doubters say he’s naive.