Gerald Ford on John Paul Stevens

In a memorial to President Ford on this blog I opined that his greatest legacy may well be Justice Stevens. It turns out that President Ford agreed. The March 2006 issue of the Fordham Law Review (which was either published very late or only recently emerged from a pile of books in my office) is a symposium on the jurisprudence of Justice Stevens. The introductory piece by Fordham Dean Bill Treanor contains a letter from President Ford, that includes the following:

I am prepared to allow history's judgment of my term in office to rest (if necessary, exclusively) on my nomination thirty years ago of Justice John Paul Stevens to the U.S. Supreme Court. I endorse his constitutional views on the secular character of the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause, on securing procedural safeguards in criminal case[s] and on the constitution's broad grant of regulatory authority to Congress.

I can think of no clearer example of how far to the right the national Republican Party has drifted on matters of jurisprudence than the contrast between Ford's endorsement of Stevens on the one hand, and the obligatory denunciations of liberal judicial activism by the current President Bush and even a socially liberal Republican like Rudy Giuliani, on the other.