CBA Record May-June 2021
A Candid Conversation with JudgeWilliam Bauer about His Friendship with Justice John Paul Stevens By Daniel Cotter, CBA Record Editorial Board J udges talking about another judge could be a run-of-the-mill chat. Not so when the conversation FBI expressed concern and told Stevens he would have to give up his plane. Ste- vens refused. Pictured from top left: Circuit Court Judge William H. Hooks, CBA President Maryam Ahmad, Senior Seventh Circuit Judge William J. Bauer, and Illinois Appellate Justice Michael B. Hyman.
sure mistakes were not made. Hyman asked Bauer to discuss the 1969 investigation of two Il l inois Supreme Court justices who had been accused of taking bribes. Stevens’s pros- ecution of the justices played a major role in his elevation to the 7th Circuit and then to the U.S. Supreme Court. The press became familiar with Stevens during that investigation, which resulted in the two justices resigning. Shortly thereafter, Illinois Senator Charles Percy, a college friend of Stevens, asked Stevens of his interest in joining the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. Bauer said that although reluctant to leave his success- ful antitrust law practice, Stevens was convinced to become a judge. Bauer and Stevens were both life-long Cubs fans, though Southsiders. Stevens, in fact, was at the World Series game at Wrigley Field where Babe Ruth alleg- edly pointed to the bleachers and hit his “called shot” homerun. Bauer noted Stevens excelled at playing bridge, golf, and tennis and enjoyed swimming. Stevens also learned how to fly an air- plane—he became a good pilot with his own Cessna. When he was nominated to become a Supreme Court justice, the
Stevens was ecstatic about his nomina- tion to the Supreme Court. At that time, there was not anywhere near the frenzy around nominees there is today. Stevens was confirmed 98-0, just 19 days after his nomination. When Stevens began his lengthy tenure on the Court, he was seen as a centrist, but by the end of his tenure, he was deemed liberal. Bauer said Stevens told him he never moved, but the Court moved right. Stevens was known as being frank with his colleagues on the Court and was seen as a sort of maverick. Bauer noted he was a delight to be with, but he was adamant about his views and was known as a great dissenter. Indeed, Stevens dissented “any time he thought he should.” In particular, Bauer noted that Stevens’s dissents in the death penalty cases showed his heart and soul. Stevens was also a big First Amendment advocate, believing that part of the Constitution to be absolute. On these issues, except for flag burning, he was often aligned with Justice Antonin Scalia. Bauer said Scalia and Stevens were
involves 7th Circuit Court Judge Wil- liam Bauer recalling the personal and professional life of his long-time friend, U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. The joint CBA and the Illinois Judges Association Zoom program was hosted by Cook County Circuit Court Judge William H. Hooks and Illinois Appellate Court Justice Michael B. Hyman. Stevens was a 7th Circuit judge when Bauer was sworn in as a district court judge. Bauer’s first hearing involved a TRO. His decision was overruled the next day – by Judge Stevens. Bauer rue- fully noted that Stevens was right. Stevens grew up in a family of lawyers. His father built the Stevens Hotel and the LaSalle Hotel, but the Depression hit the family hard. The family also had an interest in an insurance company. His father was accused, and convicted, of double dealing. Even though he was exonerated by the Illinois Supreme Court, Stevens never forgot that his dad had been wrongfully convicted, and as a result he reviewed cases carefully to make
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