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U.S. Supreme Court

Justice Stevens, Considered Liberal, Joined Conservatives in Three Notable Opinions

Posted May 13, 2008 10:14 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Justice John Paul Stevens, appointed by a Republican, is regarded as one of the U.S. Supreme Court’s liberals. But he joined with conservatives in three of the court’s most recent high-profile opinions.

Former Stevens clerk Joseph Thai told the Associated Press that he is beginning to wonder if Stevens is “tacking back a little bit toward the center."

The story notes Stevens' votes in three recent decisions. He wrote the lead opinion in the decision that upheld Indiana’s voter ID law. He joined with conservatives to hold that President Bush didn't have the authority to order Texas courts to carry out an international court decision. He also voted to uphold lethal injections, although he wrote a concurring opinion expressing his own reservations about the death penalty.

Thai told AP that Stevens’ stance in the cases shows he can be unpredictable. "He is called the leader of the liberal wing, but people pigeonhole him too readily," Thai said. "He surprises people."

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