As Expected, John Paul Stevens to Retire From Supreme Court

April 9, 2010

(ChattahBox)—As expected, Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens will retire at the end of the current term in June, according to an Associated Press report. And MSNBC is reporting that Stevens has sent a retirement letter to President Obama, saying that he wanted to provide the President and Congressional lawmakers with sufficient time to choose his successor before the next court term begins in October. Appointed by Republican President Gerald Ford in 1975, Stevens has become a dependable liberal voice in the divided Supreme Court.

The senior Associate Justice, serving 34 years, is the oldest member of the nation’s highest court, at 89. He turns 90 in a 11 days.  Stevens gave two high-profile interviews last week, strongly suggesting that he was about to retire.

According to the AP report:

“Stevens said Friday he will step down when the court finishes its work for the summer in late June or early July. He said he hopes his successor is confirmed “well in advance of the commencement of the court’s next term.”

According to ABC News, Stevens letter to Obama reads in part:

“Having concluded that it would be in the best interests of the Court to have my successor appointed and confirmed well in advance of the commencement of the Court’s next Term, I shall retire from regular active service as an Associate Justice,” Stevens wrote in a letter to the president, stating his retirement would be “effective the next day after the Court rises for the summer recess this year.”

“The leading candidates to replace Stevens are Solicitor General Elena Kagan, 49, and federal appellate Judges Merrick Garland, 57, and Diane Wood, 59.”

Stevens’ retirement affords President Obama a second opportunity to choose a Supreme Court Justice, after the successful confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor, as the first Hispanic member of the high court.

But Sotomayor’s confirmation process was contentious and Congressional Republicans have spoke of filibustering Obama’s next Supreme Court nominee, which could set off a long hot summer of vitriolic political discourse.

Replacing Stevens with another liberal justice will not change the current division of the Supreme Court.

Stevens is best known for his stinging dissent in the controversial Bush v. Gore decision that paved the way for George W. Bush to serve a second term as president.

“Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year’s presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear,” Stevens wrote. “It is the nation’s confidence in the judge as the impartial guardian of the rule of law,” wrote Stevens.


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