I will not reprint the entire endorsement, as it is long and seems many endorsements, and arguments, in one. I will focus on the one I think most important and leave you to go read the entire essay for yourself. It is notable that this is the first time in their 75 year history that they have endorsed a candidate for President. You can read more about that here.
John Paul Stevens was born on April 20, 1920, into a family of hotel magnates in the city of Chicago who, when Stevens was still young, lost everything in the Great Depression. In 1936, when John Paul Stevens was a student at the University of Chicago Laboratory School and preparing to enter the University of Chicago proper, Barack Hussein Obama Sr. was born on the shores of Lake Victoria in Kenya. In 1941, when John Paul Stevens was graduating Phi Beta Kappa and preparing to go and break Japanese naval codes and help shoot down Admiral Yamamoto in the South Pacific, Ann Dunham was born in Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. In 1961, when John Paul Stevens was practicing law, Barack Obama and Ann Dunham married and had a son, whom they also named Barack Hussein Obama. In 1975, when President Gerald Ford named John Paul Stevens to replace William O. Douglas on the United States Supreme Court, the elder Obama was long gone and the younger Obama was a freshman at the Punahou School in Honolulu. In January of 2009, if and when Barack Obama is inaugurated as the forty-fourth president of the United States, Associate Justice John Paul Stevens will be closing in on his thirty-fourth year on the Court and his eighty-ninth year on earth. And there, really, you have it. The best argument for the election of Barack Obama as president of the United States is written quite clearly in the peaks and squiggles of John Paul Stevens’s EKG.
More than any other recent election, we are voting this year not merely for a president but to overthrow two governments. The one we can see is the one in which constitutional order has been defaced, the national spirit degraded, and the country unrecognizable because so much of the best of itself has been sold off or frittered away. The other one is the far more insidious one, a doppelgänger nation of black prisons, shredded memos, and secret justifications for even more secret crimes. Moreover, the current administration has worked hard not only to immunize itself from the political and legal consequences of the government we can see, but it has also worked within the one we cannot see in order to perpetuate itself.
For the past several months, it has worked to make extricating ourselves from the catastrophe it has wrought in Iraq as hard as possible. It has sought to make permanent the culture of corporate brigandage and predatory incompetence that it has made a hallmark of its stewardship of the country and its government. Salted throughout the vast bureaucracy are dozens of little homeschooled land mines, the products of a dozen cheapjack diploma mills selling patent-medicine history to the spiritually gullible. The fantastical hiring practices that only recently have come to light in the Department of Justice are only the most visible example of this, but the poisonous philosophy that has guided this administration is in all the institutions of the government Barack Obama hopes to lead. It is not dormant. It is there, replicating itself like a virus does in the cells of the body, waiting until it can erupt and debilitate him and his administration.
And nowhere is it more clearly visible than in the federal courts. It is in the courts where the depredations of the past seven years can become permanent. It is in the courts where the un-American legacy of George W. Bush can live forever — or, at least, as long as most of the rest of us do. The Supreme Court already is dangerously close to an extremist conservative majority, and Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito were both born after John Paul Stevens already had passed the bar, and it was Stevens who, as recently as last June’s Boumediene decision, helped create a thin 5 — 4 majority in favor of reestablishing the right of habeas corpus for those people being detained by the administration in places like Guantánamo Bay. The decision threw out a key provision of the 2006 Military Commissions Act, a bipartisan piece of legislative cowardice that sank the Great Writ into a deep mire of euphemism and deceit. One vote, to uphold the right that En-glish nobles wrung out of King John in 1215. One vote, on the Supreme Court of the United States of America. One vote, from an eighty-eight-year-old man who’d already founded his own law firm when the chief justice under whom he serves, and who predictably voted in agreement with the president who’d appointed him, was born. One vote, on one of 107 federal courts.
There is no evidence at all that anything will change under a President John McCain, who has already identified Roberts and Alito as his beau ideals of Supreme Court justices. He has made brave noises about torture and the extraconstitutional prerogatives of the executive, but President Bush and his men went on and did what they wanted anyway, and McCain walked away, begging for votes from fundamentalists who hate him, meeping his displeasure in ways that were barely audible. The virus will gestate and spread on his watch, all throughout the federal government. Bushism must be ripped out, root and branch, everywhere it has been established, or else the presidential election of 2008 is a worthless exercise in futility. Barack Obama may not be the man to do it, but John McCain, for all his laudable qualities, clearly is neither willing nor able to do so.
To continue to govern ourselves this way is unthinkable. It is unsustainable as a democracy to continue to mock so egregiously in secret what we continue to profess in public. That is the task for the next president. That is the main reason to vote for Barack Obama of Illinois. We strongly encourage you to do so.