Justice John Paul Stevens, 1920-2019

July 17, 2019

Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens passed this week. He was 99. EPIC remembers Justice Stevens for his many important opinions on privacy, open government, and the First Amendment. Justice Stevens played a pivotal role in cases concerning the Constitutional right of anonymity. In McIntyre v. Ohio (1995), he wrote for the Court "Under our Constitution, anonymous pamphleteering is not a pernicious, fraudulent practice, but an honorable tradition of advocacy and of dissent. Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority." In Watchtower Bible, a case concerning a permit requirement for pamphleteers, he said for the Court "It is offensive . . . to the very notion of a free society that in the context of everyday public discourse a citizen must first inform the government of her desire to speak to her neighbors and then obtain a permit to do so." And in Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District (2004), Justice Stevens wrote in dissent opposing a state stop and identify law, "A name can provide the key to a broad array of information about the person, particularly in the hands of a police officer with access to a range of law enforcement databases." Stevens was also a cryptographer for the Navy during World War II.

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