Retired United States Supreme Court Associate Justice John Paul Stevens spoke at the 15th Annual Justice John Paul Stevens Award Luncheon. The Justice John Paul Stevens Award was conceived by Justice Stevens’s former law clerks. The first time it was presented was in September 2000. The award is given by both The Chicago Bar Foundation and The Chicago Bar Association. Justice Stevens, who is a Chicago native and practiced law in Chicago before his elevation to the bench, has been honored for his lifetime efforts to improve the system of justice and his active participation and dedication to The Chicago Bar Association.
The award that is given annually and is bestowed upon distinguished attorneys who exemplify Stevens’s commitment to integrity and public service in the practice of law. This year’s honorees included lawyers and judges from state court, federal court and the Illinois Supreme Court.
Justice Stevens has recently published one of his many books and this one is somewhat controversial but extremely well-written and provocative. It is titled, Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution. The book is an excellent summary of not just of the Constitution, but the rigors required to revise the Constitution, which has been done only 18 times during the nation’s history — revisions to the Constitution as opposed to the 27 Amendments to it.
The book deals with the Constitution’s “Supremacy Clause” found in the second paragraph of Article VI, political gerrymandering, campaign finance law or lack of it, as well as sovereign immunity and the death penalty. The book is important in that it declares the obvious — that times have changed over the last 250 years when the drafters of much of the Constitution did their work. There are 27 amendments to the Constitution, but perhaps none more critical and timely than those six proposed by Justice Stevens.
At the Stevens Award Luncheon, Justice Stevens spoke about the writing of this recently released book and the importance of the public understanding the concepts of government through the U.S. Constitution. I would estimate that more than 500 luncheon guests were present for the Justice John Paul Stevens award lunch.
Robert Kreisman is a career-long member of The Chicago Bar Association and a current member of the Public Affairs Committee for The Chicago Bar Association and practices trial law, commercial litigation and personal injury law in Chicago and Cook County for more than 38 years. His practice region includes Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding area, as well as Cicero, Elmwood Park, Schiller Park, Lincolnwood, Chicago (Garfield Park, Little Italy, Greek Town, West Town, Ukrainian Village, Goose Island, Old Town, Hyde Park, Jackson Park, East Side), Glenview and Itasca, Ill.
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