The WSJ reports Justice John Paul Stevens believes that some/all of the work attributed to William Shakespeare were actually written by Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford.
Justice Stevens, who dropped out of graduate study in English to join the Navy in 1941, is an Oxfordian -- that is, he believes the works ascribed to William Shakespeare actually were written by the 17th earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere. Several justices across the court's ideological spectrum say he may be right.
This puts much of the court squarely outside mainstream academic opinion, which equates denial of Shakespeare's authorship with the Flat Earth Society.
"Oh my," said Coppelia Kahn, president of the Shakespeare Association of America and professor of English at Brown University, when informed of Justice Stevens's cause. "Nobody gives any credence to these arguments," she says. . . .
Not all members of the court are persuaded. "To the extent I've dipped in, I'm not impressed with the Oxfordian theory," says Justice Anthony Kennedy. The spread of Oxfordianism on the court "shows Justice Stevens's power and influence," Justice Kennedy says. Of the nine active justices, only Stephen Breyer joins Justice Kennedy in sticking up for Will. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito declined to comment.
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who retired in 2006, cast the court's deciding vote many times. On Shakespeare, she says, "I'm not going to jump into this and be decisive."
According to Justice Stevens, "Sandra is persuaded that it definitely was not Shakespeare" and "it's more likely de Vere than any other candidate." Pressed, Justice O'Connor says, "It might well have been someone other than our Stratford man."