One of the consolations of middle age is that, if you have a sense of history and a sense of irony, life can be a laugh riot. Way back in 1975, when Justice William O. Douglas FINALLY resigned from the Supreme Court (a year after he had suffered a stroke that left him wheelchair-bound), I read some left-wing columnists who declared in exactly so many words that once Douglas was off the court, the Bill of Rights was finished. When President Ford nominated John Paul Stevens to fill the vacancy, I distinctly remember a cartoon in New York Magazine lampooning the President’s choice on two grounds: he only had one X chromosome and his skin was melanin-deficient. A great many left-wing pundits condemned Stevens for being male and white.
Justice Stevens has now served on the Court for thirty-four years. He is eighty-nine years old. He is now within striking distance of being both the oldest and longest-serving Justice in the history of the Court. In the fall of 2008, I had a very good chuckle when I heard Air America play a song parody to the tune of “Hang on Sloopy” entitled “Hang on Stevens,” imploring Stevens not to die or resign before noon on January 20.