Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens retiring after 34 years

Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens retiring after 34 years

Friday, April 9, 2010

Justice John Paul Stevens, the oldest member of the U.S. Supreme Court, has announced he is to retire.

Justice Stevens leads the court’s liberal bloc. His replacement will be nominated by President Barack Obama.

The judge, who turns 90 in 11 days time, says he will step down when the court finishes its work for the summer – in late June or early July.
Chief Justice John Roberts said in a written statement that Justice Stevens had earned the gratitude and admiration of the American people.

“He has enriched the lives of everyone at the court through his intellect, independence, and warm grace,” he said.

Supreme Court justices serve for life and the U.S. constitution gives the president sole authority to nominate them.

Nominations must be confirmed by the Senate.

Justice Stevens’s polite, dignified interventions made him a likeable figure on the bench, but he was also a powerful intellectual and strategic presence, our correspondent adds.

He informed Mr. Obama of his pending retirement in a one-paragraph letter addressed to “My dear Mr. President”.

Analysts say Justice Stevens’s departure will not change the court’s conservative-liberal split because President Obama is certain to name a liberal-leaning replacement.

The Washington Post, quoting aides and Democrats close to the process, named three people as likely candidates to replace Justice Stevens – Solicitor General Elena Kagan and federal judges Diane Wood and Merrick Garland.

It will be the second time in his presidency that Mr Obama makes such a nomination. Last year he named Sonia Sotomayor to replace retiring Justice David Souter.

Justice Stevens was nominated in 1975 by then U.S President Gerald Ford, to replace Justice William Douglas, who had retired.

President Barack Obama speaks about his plan to “move quickly” to nominate a successor to Justice John Paul Stevens, who announced his retirement from the U.S. Supreme Court today.

Bloomberg’s Al Hunt and Peter Cook talk with Margaret Brennan about Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens’s plan to retire and the outlook for his potential successors. The retirement of Stevens, the court’s liberal wing leader and its oldest justice at age 89, gives President Barack Obama his second chance to shape the closely divided court by appointing a successor. The Obama administration is focusing on three candidates to succeed Stevens: U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan and federal appellate judges Diane Wood and Merrick Garland, according to a White House official familiar with the situation. (Source: Bloomberg)
Justice John Paul Stevens’ retirement letter to President Obama

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