He wants to amend Article VI — the Supremacy Clause — to read as follows:

This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges and other public officials in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.

Why? To correct a series of decisions he disagrees with that prohibit the federal government from telling states what to do. The federal government can order individuals around, but not state governments. Justice Stevens explains it best: “A rule that prohibits the federal government from requiring state officials to take action to help locate missing children, to apprehend violent offenders, and to forestall terrorist attacks and the spread of communicable diseases, cannot be wise.”

Read John Paul Stevens’s Quest for Four Little Words on the Wall Street Journal Law Blog.

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