April 9, 2010

Just how senile was Justice Stevens?

Justice John Paul Stevens, who will turn 90 in ten days, finally announced his retirement from the Supreme Court.

How senile was he? Well, here's an excerpt from his 2005 opinion in a case striking down a California policy first instituted in 1979 that new prison inmates have only roommates of the same race for the first 60 days while the system checks on whether they have a history of racist gang violence. The 84-year-old Stevens scoffed at the testimony of a veteran prison official:
"One of these [California] officials, an associate warden, testified as follows:
'[W]ith the Asian population, the control sergeants have to be more careful than they do with Blacks, Whites, and Hispanics because, for example, you cannot house a Japanese inmate with a Chinese inmate. You cannot. They will kill each other. They won’t even tell you about it. They will just do it. The same with Laotians, Vietnamese, Cambodians, Filipinos. You have to be very careful about housing other Asians with other Asians. It’s very culturally heavy.

"Such musings inspire little confidence. Indeed, this comment supports the suspicion that the policy is based on racial stereotypes and outmoded fears about the dangers of racial integration. This Court should give no credence to such cynical, reflexive conclusions about race. ...

[I]ntegrated cells encourage inmates to gain valuable cross-racial experiences…"

Uh ... yeah ...

Obviously, Stevens sounds completely gaga here.

And, yet, he sounds no more senile than practically every other public figure in our society when it comes to writing about race.

Kinda hard to tell, isn't it?

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

65 comments:

Fred said...

I doubt that was him being senile, just him being ignorant of reality. He probably would have had the same answer 50 years ago.

Harry Baldwin said...

It occurs to me that there should be a set age at which justices have to retire, say their 75th birthday, so that they can't time their retirement to coincide with the term of a president with whom they are in ideological agreement. The fact that most of them do that shows how phony the whole idea of an impartial judiciary is. Seventy-five and you're out, whether or not you happen to approve of the incumbent.

Anonymous said...

This isn't evidence of senility; it is evidence of ideology. Every white liberal (and many white conservatives these days) reasons this way on these sorts of racial questions.

It's not just ideology, though, but also lack of perspective and lack of experience. I doubt Stevens knows what it is like to be in prison, much less what it is like to be white and in prison. He has no personal experience with NAMs, or non-elite "minorities" of any type.

Dave said...

A better idea would be to set a minimum age of 65 for Supreme Court Justices. If we had a 65 minimum age, it would open up the field to better candidates, and lower the temperature of nomination fights. Instead of Sonia Sotomayor as the first Latino Justice, we might have José Cabranes.

Kylie said...

Justice Stevens is quoted as opining: "the policy is based on racial stereotypes and outmoded fears about the dangers of racial integration. This Court should give no credence to such cynical, reflexive conclusions about race. ...

[I]ntegrated cells encourage inmates to gain valuable cross-racial experiences…"

I'm afraid this is evidence not of senility but of the imbecility that afflicts liberals of all ages.

Whilst forming his opinion, Justice Stevens no doubt fondly recalled the movie, The Defiant Ones, in which Sidney Poitier and Tony Curtis are escaped convicts cuffed to one another. (It was released in 1958, around the time his racial views probably ossified.) He may even think black convicts spend their free time helping nuns build churches, blind girls string beads and cracker sheriffs solve crimes.

Mr. Anon said...

"And, yet, he sounds no more senile than practically every other public figure in our society when it comes to writing about race.

Kinda hard to tell, isn't it?"

America is 234 years old. American society is senile.

Mr. Anon said...

"Harry Baldwin said...

It occurs to me that there should be a set age at which justices have to retire, say their 75th birthday, so that they can't time their retirement to coincide with the term of a president with whom they are in ideological agreement. The fact that most of them do that shows how phony the whole idea of an impartial judiciary is. Seventy-five and you're out, whether or not you happen to approve of the incumbent."

You've raised a very good point here. I agree.

jody said...

how do you differentiate between somebody who is a white liberal dangerously out of touch with reality, versus somebody who is senile, particularly when this person is both?

al davis is another guy where making this evaluation is practically impossible. i like to think that al davis is trolling the NFL in real life. at least this makes it funny.

dearieme said...

It would be quicker to say "Bugger the evidence, I prefer wishful thinking".

Doug1 said...

Harry Baldwin--

Your solution would just lead to justices approaching their 75th birthday while a President they approve of is in office, resigning early.

But it would be better. 75 or a bit younger is old enough to remain in that post. As well,while there will be the tendency I suggest, there will also be the tendency when still fairly vital to be optimistic about the election of a sympatico successor, etc.

Vernunft said...

Having had one of his clerks as a professor, I'm not sure the Justice actually wrote that...coulda come from this guy or any of the clerks steeped in leftist ideology who work at SCOTUS.

Anonymous said...

I]ntegrated cells encourage inmates to gain valuable cross-racial experienc

Of course! Didn't you know the purpose of prison was to give inmates valuable cross racial experiences? I mean, that's why they were build, right?

Anonymous said...

Question from an ignorant foreign reader: How did that prison integration thing work out?

Dennis Dale said...

Alas, I saw footage of Stevens from last year and he was sharp; this is not physical degeneration but just stupidity and vanity of evil proportion--and consequence. Shame on the fool.

mnuez said...

Steve, I realize you're just a bit lethargic minded now and not expressing yourself with your A-game but you really ought to be more careful of your social responsibility here. You know how many Aspie readers you have here who are going to take you literally and argue that 'whilst his expressed view doesn't quite conform to an accurate estimation of things, it betrays no more senility than is evident among the mass of stated opinions by younger, obviously non-senilic liberals'.

You've got a lot of readers Steve who don't understand jokes. Think about the Aspies!

Disenchanted said...

Dear God. I hadn't heard about this case. The willful ignorance, even about convicted criminals, is staggering.

When prisoners start assaulting their new multicultural roommates instead of singing Kumbaya, the same people who pushed to end the policy will scream about racism and prison authorities not "doing enough." Liberals make their own hell and then they whine about it.

Udolpho.com said...

yeah I think Steve's point is that Stevens is crazy the way all liberals are crazy...in severe denial about the degree to which human beings rely on ethnicity to communicate things about each other

it's such a basic concept--we are wired to favor those related to us--particularly in threatening environments or when surrounded by excessive diversity--but the retarded form of liberalism that prevails today refuses to incorporate it into its worldview (how virtuous of them)

Tom Regan said...

Its a good thing he's going. After all, we know a white man could not possibly have the right life experinece of say, a wise Latina woman,to make sound judgements for the new America.

Whiskey said...

Goodwin Liu, of Asian descent, would say the same thing, likely. He is considerably younger than Stevens.

Garland said...

That no one called him on it shows it has nothing to do with senility, just the basic insanity of liberalism.

Henry Canaday said...

Stevens was a pompous mediocrity when he was in his prime. William Douglas, the Court’s longevity record-holder, was a shifty egomaniac when young as when old. William Rehnquist was a bright and honest young lawyer, probably lost a bit of his brilliance as he aged, but remained honest. Mental quickness may decline as one ages, but character seems to last.

The real problem with these lifetime justices is that most are unable to admit the possibility that their earlier decisions were disastrously wrong. None of the Warren Court majority ever acknowledged that their dismantlement of the criminal justice system in the 1960s was a disaster for crime rates. None of the Burger Court majority ever acknowledged that their expansion of substantive due process, to constitutionally guarantee welfare rights, was a disaster for the poor.

rightsaidfred said...

Wasn't it a flaw of the Soviet Union that leadership positions became a retirement slot?

FDR, Ted Kennedy, Robert Mugabe: such things don't end well.

Anonymous said...

This reminded me of a chapter called "The Lucas-Dockery Experiments" from Waugh's Decline and Fall.

And obviously, it's Stevens who needed to gain valuable cross-racial experiences before he was allowed to pass judgment on others. Experiences like getting mugged, or having his car stolen, or having to listen to black radio cranked up really loud every day for a year or two, preferably with somebody explaining the lyrics to him. Just getting yelled at by enough angry black women while trying to get a simple question answered on the phone could have done something positive for him.

l said...

In the interest of diversity, there will likely be no WASP left on the Supreme Court.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304222504575173803522442196.html?mod=WSJ_WSJ_US_News_3

Not Barack Obama said...

"[I]ntegrated cells encourage inmates to gain valuable cross-racial experiences"

We as a nation should be doing more to encourage people to go to jail to benefit from valuable cross-racial experiences.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

It's worse than you think. The law clerk who wrote that was probably a 28-year old Yale grad from the top 10% of his class.

B Lode said...

I argue that the system of housing inmates with physical access to each other is inherently a bad idea (as well as being formally similar to the problems plaguing schools).

Stevens may be senile, I don't know, but supporting the status quo in prison management requires a little bit of willful muddleheadedness. "Valuable cross-racial experiences" are approximately as stupid (or Orwellian?) an idea as "valuable intersize experiences" - i.e., house 300-pound body building inmates with 120-pound weed smokers, so the latter can "learn to be bigger".

Dumbest of all is the idea that people who want to get out of prison and get back to their lives are going to be treated similarly to the guys who consider themselves lifers. We have set up a system where hardened killers have a more pleasant experience in prison than the "one terrible mistake" crowd. That's the biggest inversion I can even conceive of.

The government is responsible for what goes on in prisons - simple as that.

Victoria said...

... the policy is based on racial stereotypes and outmoded fears about the dangers of racial integration

This was one of the most disgusting intrusions by the Court, and is one of the reasons why it is scary whenever they decide to take on a case. The sensible voice was the dissent by Thomas, who expressed the understanding of why a prison is a different entity than the society at large. Even society should not be subjected to this enforced multicultural bullshit, but certainly not a prison, where maintaining daily order is so paramount to both the inmates and staff. About this case:

The overzealous integrationist court

Average Joe said...

I think you are confusing senility and liberalism which, sadly, is very easy to do since both involve an inability to deal with reality.

Crypto Change-o said...

The entire race issue in our politics is a gigantic lie. I am sure Steven's himself, his wife, daughters, and granddaughters have all made many key decisions in their lives based on racial criteria. The most obvious examples are decisions regarding real estate.

This country is full of outwardly liberal types making raw racial calculations when buying real estate. And I'm not saying that's a bad thing. They are doing it because race is real and racial demographics severely impact neighborhoods.

The level of liberal hypocrisy in America on the race issue is off the charts.

Go to the real estate industry web sites. They are fixated on the racial composition of neighborhoods and schools. Because that is where the rubber meets the road.

The real estate industry is absolutely obsessed with racial demographics... and for good reason.

Anonymous said...

"He probably would have had the same answer 50 years ago."

Some might consider that evidence of senility.

Nanonymous said...

Every time some die hard liberal denies obvious reality like this, I wish there was a way to place that person in an actual physical situation to "gain valuable cross-racial experiences…".

Every time that happens, an instant cure occurs. No exceptions.

Anonymous said...

"...a set age at which justices have to retire..."

Wouldn't that require a constitutional amendment?

ziel said...

I was wondering if there has been an increase in violent incidents in CA prisons since this decision. Currently, the CDCR only has historical data thru 2006.

But I did find this explanation of their current policy - it looks like they've done the best they can to maintain the policy they had while working within the court decision. So while O'Connor and Kennedy's inexplicable decision in favor of Johnson was rather disappointing (it would have been a 4-4 tie otherwise), at least they moderated the outcome enough to send it back to the lower courts, where it was mediated in a way that maybe wasn't quite as disastrous for inmate safety as it might have been had Stevens prevailed.

silly girl said...

"Seventy-five and you're out, whether or not you happen to approve of the incumbent."


Uh, that could backfire, you know.

Anonymous said...

Um, Chinese and Japanese prisoners will just kill each other??? Frankly I'd be dubious too.

How many unassimilated Japanese do we have in this country anyway? We haven't had much immigration -- legal or illegal -- from Japan for quite some time. (Or from any other highly successful country either, for that matter).

Anonymous said...

It occurs to me that there should be a set age at which justices have to retire, say their 75th birthday, so that they can't time their retirement to coincide with the term of a president with whom they are in ideological agreement. The fact that most of them do that shows how phony the whole idea of an impartial judiciary is.

Obama's two replacement opportunities will be for GOP nominations [Bush 41 -> Souter, Ford -> Stevens].

And the last pseudo-conservative DEM nomination [JFK -> White] waited until Clinton was sworn in before he retired [go figure].

Anyway, you're right about the phoniness of the charade, and, more generally, the hopelessness of trying to maintain a constitutional republic in the face of an ever-metastasizing legalistic nihilism at the heart of our jurisprudence.

Anonymous said...

[I]ntegrated cells encourage inmates to gain valuable cross-racial experiences..."

Yeah sure, like being a White inmate getting gang-raped by a bunch of the 'bruthas' on the down-low. An "experience" you'll carry with you for the rest of your life...

Actually the good justices' comments are not only untrue they are the EXACT OPPOSITE of the truth. The best way to make prisons safer would be to have complete racial segregation. All prisons would be equally funded and supplied but completely segregated. This would end all racially-based violence in prisons. It wouldn't of course end all violence, but eliminating all racial violence would make prisons a WHOLE LOT safer.

Still its hard to tell the "difference" between senility and political correctness. They are both a form of 'non compos mentis'.


...absolutely agree with Harry Baldwin. There should be MANDATORY age limits for the supreme court. Would you want a 90-year old pilot flying the 747 you are on?

Anonymous said...

Oh, that there were some law that required all members of the three branches of government to live in
a "demographically diverse" neighborhood in a demographically diverse county in say, CA, for all their time off-- a community that is characterized as working class.

Oh, and another requirement-- 100 hours sitting in classrooms in the public school system in that community.

Steven's "senility" is really his mushy-headed liberal notions that social oppression is what keeps people down. Ensconsed in his world for decades, a guy like Stevens doesn't even know what American culture/society is all about for most of its inhabitants nor, do I imagine, he has made any or much of an attempt to find out, judging from his decisions.

Anyone remember the Poe story, "The Masque of the Red Death" in which the Prince Prospero and his effete friends party in his abbey, encapsuled behind locked iron gates as the peasants outside dropped dead from the Red Death?

Striking similarity to today's America. Here's hoping the partiers in DC get theirs.

Tensor said...

"integrated cells encourage inmates to gain valuable cross-racial experiences"

HAHAHA! OH WOW! That's the best euphemism I heard all day.

Captain Jack Aubrey said...

Stevens: "Such musings inspire little confidence. Indeed, this comment supports the suspicion that the policy is based on racial stereotypes and outmoded fears about the dangers of racial integration."

There are few things more frightening than supposed intellectuals who have never performed a job telling people who do it everyday how to do it.

I'm with Harry Baldwin on the mandatory retirement, but it'll never happen, of course.

Anonymous said...

no more in defiance of reality then any other liberal... meanwhile chastising 'creationists' for being 'anti-science'

Side note but he was yet another REPUBLICAN judge who went left... wouldn't it be nice to see whomever obama puts in veer right??

rich s. said...

Last Sunday Bob Scheiffer quoted himself from eight years ago. (Apparently there is a dearth of non-Catholic pontificators on Church doings.) His quote: the Church’s problems were due to “bureaucracies that grow so old” and “that aging leaders had put their own survival ahead of …”

How many times over those eight years did Scheiffer gripe about Stevens’ age?

fdferewfs said...

Main enemy for white America is the elite. When you kill an elephant, you shoot for the head. Head goes, body goes. This is why conservatives should focus less on masses of illegals than the power elite(who let those illegals in). But conservatives have this Ayn Randian notion that the rich and powerful are on the side of conservatism. Wrong!!!
There used to be an alliance between the rich and masses of conservative whites. No longer. The rich are globalist, liberal Jewish, or liberal Wasp. They sold the white masses out.
Attack the elite. Go for the head shot. (Not literally but figuratively).

Anonymous said...

I'm Asian.

Sorry, I'd have to agree with Stevens on this one. I'd much rather be housed with an other-Asian ethnic than some black or Hispanic dude. Wouldn't necessarily mind a straight white guy.

I've never heard of this intra-Asian strife before, esp. with Laotians, Vietnamese, Cambodians, Filipinos.

The prison guards in question must've stumbled upon a few ethnic gang members, is my guess. In this case it probably is a false stereotype, or at least does not generalize outside of California.

Alticor said...

We need to create a third House of Congress, call it here (for working purposes) the "Senate Emeritus". You don't run FOR it, you are automatically nominated when you are a Representative, Senator or Supreme Court judge who has been in there a long time. It's put to general election nationwide and simple majority puts you in. If elected you are in for life, you may not serve in your present office but must move up or retire completely.

It has only insignficant and ceremonial duties.

Anonymous said...

The sheriff sounds senile. A Chinese and Japanese race war in California?

headache said...

I reckon the kind of liberalism espoused by Steves is just mental laziness which translates into following the common discourse, currently being PC.

jody said...

haha. are some of these posters idiots? hey morons, it's not high achieving, wife-and-two-kids computer programmer asians who are in these jail cells. it's not friendly old jimmy chu from down in the graphic arts department who ends up in the prison. it's asian gang members.

you guys are as out of touch with reality as stevens.

Baloo said...

"Liberals make their own hell and then they whine about it." I love this quote, disenchanted, and want to use it. How should I attribute it?

Anonymous said...

Stevens' youth was in the 1920s-1940s, not exactly the days of PC. He surely has a few hidden racialist views, like just about all of the old timers I've known. More likely one of his clerks wrote this opinion, or else Stevens is spewing what all his cohorts would like him to say.

rob said...

You've got a lot of readers Steve who don't understand jokes. Think about the Aspies


I'll think of the aspies

Had the Cali prison folk wanted to win the case, they would have argued that prison is for punishment. Part of that punishment is depriving prisoners of the joys of diversity. Prolly they didn't cuz more prison crime means more prison jobs.

Disenchanted said...

It's not a quote, Baloo. It's just something I wrote at the spur of the moment.

Anonymous said...

Our Australian situation is different- maybe because we are a younger country. In Australia the highest court is the High Court ( we don't like to complicate things :) ), it is the one that adjudicates on issues of constitutionality and issues between the states and the commonwealth ( the federal government) but much less on human rights and equal opportunity or abortion as these are generally state based legal jurisdictions.In 1977 the Constitution Alteration (Retirement of Judges) Act was proclaimed, ending the life tenure of High Court Justices. The Act required that all Justices appointed from then on must retire on attaining the age of 70 years. There are 7 judges and High Court appointments are made by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the federal Attorney-General, a member of the ruling political party who must consult with state counterparts and the Bar Associations. The appointments are seen as political patronage BUT with the provisio that overwhelmingly ,the candidates creditials are also seeen as having to be top drawer despite the appointments being made without public challenge.

Captain Jack Aubrey said...

In the interest of diversity, there will likely be no WASP left on the Supreme Court.

I, WASP, almost hope one of the Jews gets it. In a country dominated by people whining about disparity, what could be better than pointing to a Court one-third Jewish to shut them up. Maybe whites would finally start using the Jewish/Asian example in general as proof that racism is not the cause of disparity. There's always a chance...

It's going to be a left-wing liberal, anyway - it might as well be a Jewish one.

Sad-strange that in a country founded by Protestants, that is still overwhelmingly Protestant, that our highest court, consisting of nine members, may soon not have a single Protestant.

rob said...

I've never heard of this intra-Asian strife before, esp. with Laotians, Vietnamese, Cambodians, Filipinos.

The prison guards in question must've stumbled upon a few ethnic gang members, is my guess. In this case it probably is a false stereotype, or at least does not generalize outside of California.


Uh dude was talking people who end up in prison. The stereotype doesn't have to be true in general to be useful in that situation. It only has to be true about the sort of Asians who end up in prison.

rob said...

Disenchanted said...
It's not a quote, Baloo. It's just something I wrote at the spur of the moment.

Ok, but it's a good phrase. I for one am going to quote it. I'm either going to steal it, or say "as some dude (or chick) on the internet said..." If you had name besides disenchanted, I could use that.

Anonymous said...

I wonder WHEN was the last time the good judge wandered alone at night through a black neighbourhood? I think he is in serious need of some valuable "cross-racial experience".

Anonymous said...

Anyone remember the Poe story, "The Masque of the Red Death" in which the Prince Prospero and his effete friends party in his abbey, encapsuled behind locked iron gates as the peasants outside dropped dead from the Red Death?

I remember the movie version with Vincent Price. The last time I saw it @ 20 years ago, on TV a family friend who was dying of AIDs came by unexpectedly to visit my parents while it was on. Never saw him again. Very creepy. Never forget that film.

Anonymous said...

"haha. are some of these posters idiots? hey morons,"

Yeah I guess I'm a moron and hard guys like you have street info. Tell me about these Japanese gangs in CA.

Anonymous said...

"Sorry, I'd have to agree with Stevens on this one. I'd much rather be housed with an other-Asian ethnic than some black or Hispanic dude."

Then you must really, grossly misunderstand what Stevens is saying here.

Anonymous said...

The sheriff sounds senile. A Chinese and Japanese race war in California?

Maybe there was in the 1930s?

Captain Jack Aubrey said...

I have one major dispute with your post: its title - "Just how senile was Justice Stevens?"

Was? Unfortunately, the man still is a Supreme Court justice, and 300 million Americans have been suffering from that fact for decades and will continue to suffer for it so long as some of his rulings remain law.

Svigor said...

In the interest of diversity, there will likely be no WASP left on the Supreme Court.

Don't give up, they yet may find a homosexual, crippled, far-left WASP.

David said...

> The real estate industry is absolutely obsessed with racial demographics... and for good reason. <

Amen. May I put this in blunt terms? You DON'T want to live around blacks, period.

You certainly don't want to live in a cage with any.