Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens to Retire

Washington, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)-April 9, 2010.  John Paul Stevens, senior Associate Justice of the Supreme Court has announced that he will retire this summer.  Justice Stevens’ retirement will now give President Obama his second opportunity to shape the Supreme Court.

Justice Stevens is currently the second-oldest justice and fourth-longest serving justice in the history of the Court.  His announcement comes just 11 days before his 90th birthday.

Stevens was born on April 20, 1920 in Chicago, Illinois.  He earned an undergraduate degree at the University of Chicago.  Stevens enlisted in the Navy following college serving as an intelligence officer in the Pacific Theater from 1942 – 1945 and was awarded the Bronze Star.  Following the war, Stevens enrolled in Northwestern University School of Law graduating magna cum laude in 1947.

Early in his Supreme Court tenure, Stevens had a moderate voting record.  He voted to reinstate capital punishment in the United States and opposed racially sensitive admissions programs.  But on the more conservative Rehnquist Court, Stevens tended to side with the more liberal-leaning Justices on issues such as abortion rights, gay rights and federalism.  According to a 2003 statistical analysis of Supreme Court voting patterns, Stevens was found to be the most liberal member of the Court.

One of Justice Stevens’ most discussed decisions was the scathing dissent he wrote on the Court’s ruling in Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S., 98 (2000).  The Court had ruled to stay the recount of votes in Florida during the 2009 presidential election.  Stevens opined that the holding displayed “an unstated lack of confidence in the impartiality and capacity of the state judges who would make the critical decisions if the vote count were to proceed.”  He continued, “(t)he endorsement of that position by the majority of this Court can only lend credence to the most cynical appraisal of the work of judges throughout the land.  It is confidence in the men and women who administer the judicial system that is the true backbone of the rule of law.  Time will one day heal the wound to that confidence that will be inflicted by today’s decision.  One thing, however, is certain.  Although we may never know with complete certainty the identify of the winner of this year’s Presidential election, the identify of the loser is perfectly clear.  It is the Nation’s confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law.”

 

Sources; CNN, supremecourt.gov, Lawrence Sirovic, “A Pattern Analysis of the Second Rehnquist Court,” June 24, 2003