Supreme Court Sluggers: John Paul Stevens is no Stephen J. Field


Assessing the great length of John Paul Stevens’s service as a Supreme Court Justice (34 years, 6 months, 10 days) should involve more than just adding up time.  By the calendar, he is in third place on the list of longest-serving members of the Court, just behind Stephen J. Field (34 years, 6 months, 11 days) and further behind William O. Douglas (36 years, 6 months, 26 days).  An argument might be made, however, that Stevens’s length-of-service ranking should be higher – that he ought to be recognized as standing a little bit ahead of Field, and perhaps closer to Douglas as well.  It is an argument that depends on what it means to “serve” on the Court.  After all, it is “Service[]” that the Constitution expects of the “Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts.”