Justice Stevens Retires

Justice John Paul Stevens, the oldest member of the Court, has announced that he will retire at the end of this summer. Stevens, who is 11 days shy of his 90th birthday, said he hopes his successor is confirmed “well in advance of the commencement of the court’s next term.”


Filed under U. S. Supreme Court

12 responses to “Justice Stevens Retires

  1. How will the Party of HELL No be able to spread themselves thin enough to demonize anyone and everyone who is a considered nominee and continue the fight against health care reform, plus all the other initiatives President Obama is easily able to handle all at once?

  2. It’s looking more likely than not President Obama will have the opportunity for THREE SCOTUS appointments even if he only serves one term as president.

    Has anyone heard any update or news of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s health? I don’t think I’ve heard anything for nearly a year.

  3. Zippy

    It could bode better for the future if good people are nominated.

    I wonder about Ginsburg’s health, too, but, honestly, I think we need to start showering Scalia with seven-course Italian meals! 🙂

    • I think it’s possible after a few more Roberts decisions we’ll see Scalia in a better light (and that would take a bunch!). Scalia is merely stubborn, and convinced of his ‘correctness’ of interpreting the founding fathers; Roberts is a snake in the grass.

  4. Zippy

    Probably the most immediately relevant comment on his retirement:

    In recent years, the court has given extraordinary preference to powerful interests at the expense of ordinary Americans. Justice Stevens was a bulwark against that trend.” -Michael Keegan, president of the liberal interest group People for the American Way.

    And, as Senior Justice of the so-called “liberal (moderate) wing,” Ginsburg will be assigning a lot more opinions.

  5. tosmarttobegop

    I firmly believe that the SCOTUS should be the one branch that is free of partisan Politics and Politics in general. The only governing factor should be the Constitution and the law.

    Otherwise there can be no faith in the laws if it is a matter of one side or the other winning.

    • I agree whole-heartedly!

      Whose interpretation of The Constitution shall we use?

      Therein lies the politics.

      If The Constitution was easily and universally understood we wouldn’t even need the courts.

  6. I’m all for President Obama making a bunch more recess appointments! I’m convinced the Republicans will block anyone and everyone. Although I applaud the efforts to go beyond partisanship, there must be some cooperation to achieve that goal and the current elected Republicans are incapable of conducting themselves as anything more than recalcitrant children.


    Obama’s Controversial Justice Nominee Withdraws Amid GOP Protests

    President Obama’s pick to head the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel is withdrawing her nomination amid Republican
    protests over past statements she made on abortion and national security.

    Dawn Johnsen said she was dropping out of the process because her “nomination has met with lengthy delays and political opposition that threaten” her objective to restore the office to its “best nonpartisan traditions” and “prevent OLC from functioning at full strength.”

    “I hope that the withdrawal of my nomination will allow this important office to be filled promptly,” she said.

    A White House spokesman said the president accepted Johnsen’s request.

    “Her credentials are exemplary and her commitment to the rule of law has been proven time and again, but it is now clear that Senate Republicans will not allow her to be confirmed,” White House spokesman Ben Labolt said in a written statement.

    continue reading —


  7. As I was reading this article about Justice Stevens I thought about what Winston Churchill said, “If you are 20 years old and not a liberal you have no heart. If you are 30 Years old and not a conservative you have no brain.” Back in the days when the word conservative had something to do with wise money management that was probably very true. Today everything about that once fine word has changed into something that means nothing Winston Churchill would have recognized. I, like Justice Stevens, stayed in the center while everything meaningful and ‘grand’ about the grand ole party changed to much less than it once was.


    John Paul Stevens’ unexpectedly liberal legacy

    The retiring Supreme Court justice started out as a conservative in 1975, but as he saw it, the court shifted right as he held to the center.

    The Supreme Court career of John Paul Stevens could not have been easily predicted in 1975 when he arrived as a Midwestern Republican with a background in corporate and antitrust law.

    A World War II veteran, he wanted no part of defending pornography as a free speech issue: “Few of us would march our sons and daughters off to war to preserve the citizen’s right to see . . . sexually explicit ‘adult’ movies,” he wrote in his first major opinion. Having replaced liberal Justice William O. Douglas, Stevens cast a key vote in his first year to restore the death penalty after a four-year ban.

    But since the mid-1990s, Justice Stevens has been the leader of the court’s liberal wing and its strongest voice for progressive causes. He supported a strict separation of church and state and vigorous enforcement of laws to protect civil rights and the environment.

    He championed clear limits on the “influence of big money” in American politics. “Money is not speech,” he said, but property subject to regulation. And two years ago, he called for an end to “state-sanctioned killing,” insisting the “real risk of error” made the death penalty no longer acceptable.

    So what changed? Did Stevens become more liberal over three decades, or did Stevens hold to the center while the high court shifted right in response to appointments by Presidents Reagan and George W. Bush?

    As Stevens saw it, he held to the center. On abortion, prayer in schools and campaign spending, he tried to maintain the law as it was when he joined the court. For example, he voted to uphold state laws that required young girls to have their parents’ consent to get an abortion. But when Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justice Antonin Scalia pressed to overturn the right to abortion entirely, Stevens became a steady defender of Roe vs. Wade, the decision that established that right.

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    • Zippy

      This is so-much on-target. I remembered reacting with disbelief the first time David Souter was called a “liberal.”

      In truth, if the definition is a liberal–inclusive–intrepretation of Bill of Rights, an insistence on strict standards for government’s power over people (the exact opposite of John Roberts), and a recognition that our natural rights apply no matter who you are–and subsequent rejection of the view that some have a “right” to denigrate the equality of others via legislation–then the last real liberal retired in 1991.

      By all account, John Paul Stevens was and is a truly nice and thoughtful man, and even some of his more misguided opinions (Pacifica Foundation, the dissent in Texas v. Johnson), were not at the level of precedent-mispresenting crap we’ve seen from Rehnquist and later Roberts, or the hell-with-precedent attitude of Scalia (sorry, Fnord, I have on a few occasions agreed with Scalia–he has his own mind, and produced a crucial fifth vote in some important cases–but my issues with him go far beyond mere stubborness).

      But the essential point is correct. Even Scalia may be considered a centrist, on this Court. But if that is analogous to the political center of this country (recent elections–and even polls–suggest otherwise), then we are in worse trouble than we thought.

  8. I am looking forward to the spectacle the Republicans will make of themselves over whoever President Obama nominates to replace Justice Stevens. Should enhance their overall ‘attractiveness’ to behave in ways few adults would accept as indicative of leadership.

    The other thing I wonder about is how in the world will they keep media attention — let alone capture the short attention span of busy Americans — on health-care reform, the horrible gawd-awful SCOTUS nomination and 2012 mid-term elections. Those sound bites are going to be more difficult with so many directions to go!

  9. Oh, and they should blow all their disgust on whoever is nominated this time! Fight hard! Leave nothing in the trenches! Bring it all out!

    Wouldn’t it just frost their butts if one of their own retired during President Obama’s term? 🙂 Scalia is 74, Kennedy (although not totally right wing) is 73.

    Republicans, of course, won’t hold anything back on this nomination and will look even more stupid and childish if an opening that could actually change the balance of the court faces them when they don’t have a sitting Republican president.