Retired Justice John Paul Stevens showed his sense of humor – and patience – during an interview last night with Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert.
After Colbert expressed disappointment with his team for not securing an active Supreme Court justice to interview, he chided Stevens for failing to take his lifetime appointment literally. “I don’t want you to take this the wrong way, but you sound like a quitter,” Colbert said.
“I am,” Stevens replied. “I am a quitter. After 37 years you’re entitled to quit.”
Speaking about Stevens’ book, “Five Chiefs,” Colbert asked: “Were you upset that you were never one of the chiefs?”
“Well, you know, I was acting chief for a while,” Stevens said.
“Did you go mad with power?” Colbert queried. “You know, ‘Scalia – through the spanking machine!’”
“No I never went that far,” Stevens chuckled.
On the Citizens United ruling, Colbert challenged Stevens’ assertion that, although corporations case considered persons in some contexts, they don’t enjoy all the rights that humans do.
“You don’t have the right to judge the way” corporations do things, Colbert said.
“I think I do,” Stevens replied.
“You do? Why, because you’re a Supreme Court justice?”
“That’s right,” Stevens said.
“Ok. fantastic,” Colbert snarks. “Ok. You’re a Supreme Court justice, I’m not. That gives you the right to judge things. That’s very convenient.”
Colbert’s last question for Stevens: “Are there any decisions you’ve made that you’ve regretted?”
“Other than this interview?” Stevens said. “I don’t think so.”
See the whole interview here.