News sources have confirmed that John Paul Stevens will retire as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States this summer.
Stevens, 89, is the second oldest and will retire as among the longest-serving justices in the Court's history, having been nominated by President Ford in 1975 to fill the vacancy left by the retirement of William O. Douglas. He is generally regarded as the leader of the Court's liberal wing over the past fifteen years, yet as Jeffrey Rosen wrote in a September 2007 profile of Stevens,
In criminal-law and death-penalty cases, Stevens has voted against the government and in favor of the individual more frequently than any other sitting justice. He files more dissents and separate opinions than any of his colleagues. He is the court’s most outspoken defender of the need for judicial oversight of executive power. And in recent years, he has written majority opinions in two of the most important cases ruling against the Bush administration’s treatment of suspected enemy combatants in the war on terror....
Stevens, however, is an improbable liberal icon. "I don’t think of myself as a liberal at all," he told me during a recent interview in his chambers, laughing and shaking his head. "I think as part of my general politics, I’m pretty darn conservative." Stevens said that his views haven’t changed since 1975, when as a moderate Republican he was appointed by President Gerald Ford to the Supreme Court. Stevens’s judicial hero is Potter Stewart, the Republican centrist, whom Stevens has said he admires more than all of the other justices with whom he has served. He considers himself a "judicial conservative," he said, and only appears liberal today because he has been surrounded by increasingly conservative colleagues. "Including myself," he said, "every judge who’s been appointed to the court since Lewis Powell" — nominated by Richard Nixon in 1971 — "has been more conservative than his or her predecessor. Except maybe Justice Ginsburg. That’s bound to have an effect on the court."
Buzz in the legal community suggests that the leading candidates to replace Justice Stevens will include solicitor general Elena Kagan, Judge Diane Wood (7th Cir.) and Judge Merrick Garland (D.C. Cir.)
I don't intend to speculate on such things to today, but rather simply thank Justice Stevens for his service to our country -- service which began on December 6, 1941, when at the age of 21 he enlisted in the Navy and joined its intelligence service, earning a Bronze Star for his cryptography work which helped break the Japanese codes.
Thank you, Justice Stevens, and may you enjoy your retirement for many years to come.
For more discussion, see the anti bigot's diary. -- BarbinMD
added: TPM has the official resignation letter. Of note, he announces he's retiring now to have a successor "confirmed well in advance of the Court's next Term," and unlike Justice O'Connor (who agreed to stay on the Court until a replacement was confirmed), Justice Stevens will step down "the next day after the Court rises for the summer recess this year."