Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens to Retire

Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, the court’s “oldest member and leader of its liberal bloc, is retiring,” the AP reports.

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."

The timing of his announcement “leaves ample time for the White House to settle on a successor and Senate Democrats, who control 59 votes, to conduct confirmation hearings and a vote.”

Republicans have “not ruled out an attempt to delay confirmation.”

An excerpt from Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy’s (D-VT) statement:

Justice Stevens’ unique and enduring perspective is irreplaceable; his stalwart adherence to the rule of law is unparalleled. The federal judiciary, and indeed the entire nation, will miss his principled jurisprudence.  While it is with a heavy heart, I wish him the best in his retirement. 

As we move forward with preparations for the second Supreme Court nomination of this Congress, I am reminded of the Vermont marble inscribed above the entrance of the Supreme Court which pledges “Equal Justice Under Law.”  I hope that Senators on both sides of the aisle will make this process a thoughtful and civil discourse.  I expect President Obama to continue his practice of consulting with members on both sides of the aisle as he considers this important nomination.  The decisions of the Supreme Court are often made by only five individuals, but they impact the daily lives of each and every American.  All Senators should strive to fulfill their constitutional duty of advise and consent, and give fair and thorough consideration to Justice Stevens’ successor.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY):

“John Paul Stevens has said that he never felt the need to break any records, but judging by his legendary vigor it seems highly likely that he could have shattered the record for longest-serving Supreme Court justice if he had wanted to. I commend Justice Stevens for his lifelong commitment to public service, from his early days fighting corruption in Chicago, to his work in naval intelligence during the Second World War, to his more than three decades on the nation’s highest court. Even if Justice Stevens’ liberalism has led to many decisions I oppose, I respect his devotion to the institution and the gentlemanly manner in which he always carried out his work. I wish Justice Stevens and his wife Maryan all the best in their future endeavors. 

“As we await the President’s nominee to replace Justice Stevens at the end of his term, Americans can expect Senate Republicans to make a sustained and vigorous case for judicial restraint and the fundamental importance of an even-handed reading of the law.”

John Cornyn (R-TX), a member of the Judiciary Committee:

“Justice Stevens devoted his career to our nation’s judicial system, participating in some of the most important cases in our history. While he and I may have different judicial philosophies, I thank Justice Stevens for his service, and I wish him well in his retirement.

“Our nation deserves a Supreme Court nominee who is committed to deciding cases impartially based on the law, not on personal politics, preferences, or what’s in the nominee’s ‘heart.’ It is my expectation that Senators on both sides of the aisle will work to ensure both a dignified and respectful process for our next nominee.”

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV):

“Justice Stevens has been a strong presence on the Court for almost 35 years and worked to build consensus and protect the rule of law.  I honor his service to America and wish him well in his retirement.

“I am confident that President Obama will use the same wisdom that he showed with his nomination of Justice Sotomayor and name a well-qualified successor.  I encourage my Republican colleagues to join us in conducting fair, respectful hearings and swift confirmation of the President’s nominee.”

Orrin Hatch (R-UT), a member of the Judiciary Committee, per a press release:

“Justice Stevens’ has had a profound impact on the judiciary and the law. He is a remarkably dedicated public servant and a profoundly decent human being. All Americans should thank him for his dedicated service and we all wish him a happy and healthy retirement.

“Every President has an obligation to nominate Judges who understand and are committed to their proper role in our system of government. As I have said for many years, someone who would be an activist judge, who would substitute their own views for what the law requires, is not qualified to serve on the federal bench. The confirmation process should be fair and thorough, and the President’s nominee should be judged by this standard. I look forward to participating in this process when the President announces his nominee to the nation’s highest court.”

Herb Kohl (D-WI), a member of the Judiciary Committee:

“Justice Stevens has served on the Supreme Court with the utmost integrity, honor, and Midwestern sensibility. He contributed a lifetime of experience, knowledge, legal acumen and leadership to some of the most important legal issues in our nation’s history. I thank Justice Stevens for his lifetime commitment to public service; he will be greatly missed.  I look forward to confirming a nominee that will carry on his distinguished legacy.”   

Ben Cardin (D-MD), a member of the Judiciary Committee (excerpt):

“I applaud Justice Stevens not solely for his 35 years on our highest court, but also for his dedication to public service and country, harking back to his distinguished service in the Navy during World War II, which earned him a Bronze Star.

“Supreme Court decisions affect every person in our nation and each Supreme Court justice has the tremendous responsibility of safeguarding the framers’ intent and the guiding values of our Constitution, while ensuring the protections and rights found in the Constitution are relevant and applied to the issues of the day.

“As President Obama considers potential nominees to fill the large shoes of Justice Stevens, I expect him to follow the precedent he set with the nomination of Associate Justice Sotomayor and consult closely with the Senate throughout the process. I look forward to giving fair and thoughtful consideration to Justice Stevens’ successor.”

Chuck Grassley (R-IA), a member of the Judiciary Committee:

“Justice Stevens has had a long and distinguished career on the Supreme Court.  He has been a dedicated public servant over his 30 plus years on the bench, and I wish him the best in his retirement. 

“Replacing him on the Court will be yet another big test for the President.  A lifetime appointment requires a thorough vetting and I expect any Supreme Court nominee to receive fair and deliberative consideration.   The Judiciary Committee will take the time needed to ensure that the President’s nominee will be true to the Constitution and apply the law, not personal politics, feelings or preferences.” 

Tom Coburn (R-OK), a member of the Judiciary Committee:

“I hope President Obama’s pick will unite rather than divide the country,” Dr. Coburn said.  “In my view, the nominee should have a demonstrated record of strictly interpreting the Constitution without ideological bias.  I would also urge my colleagues to give the committee ample time to review the nominee.  Any person nominated to a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court needs to have their record carefully and thoroughly reviewed.”

Ted Kaufman (D-DE), a member of the Judiciary Committee:

"I extend my heartfelt thanks to Justice Stevens for his 35 years of service on the United States Supreme Court. The Court has lost a giant. He has been a forceful voice for individual liberties, separation of powers, and the rule of law. History will no doubt view him as a truly great Supreme Court justice.

“This will be President Obama’s second Supreme Court nominee in as many years. His selection of Justice Sotomayor demonstrated an appreciation for the need to enrich the Court with a Justice who would bring real depth of experience to the bench. I am confident that President Obama will select another nominee with impeccable legal credentials and a record of excellence and integrity. I also hope that President Obama will continue to cast a broad net in his search, so that the Court will benefit from a range of life experience."

Russ Feingold (D-WI), a member of the Judiciary Committee:

“Throughout his remarkable career on the Supreme Court, Justice Stevens provided wisdom and steadfast leadership.  We are grateful as a nation for his service during World War II, as well as his thirty-five years of outstanding service on the Court.  As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I welcome the opportunity to consider whomever President Obama nominates to the Supreme Court and I look forward to him once again consulting with senators from both parties during the nomination process.” 

Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN):

“Justice Stevens has had a long and impressive career. I hope President Obama will nominate his successor from the middle and not from the fringe. His nominee will be fairly and respectfully considered. The question is not whether the president’s nominee is politically ‘on my side,’ but whether he or she is well-qualified and has a record of being impartial. In truly extraordinary cases, I reserve the prerogative to vote no on confirmation or even to vote to deny an up-or-down vote.”

Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a member of the Judiciary Committee:

“While I disagreed with many of Justice Stevens’ decisions, I respect his long service on the court.  I look forward to reviewing the qualifications and record of the President’s nominee to replace Justice Stevens, the leader of the liberal bloc of the court.  I expect the Judiciary Committee hearings on the next nominee to be civil, deliberative, thorough, challenging, and informative.”

Arlen Specter (D-PA), a member of the Judiciary Committee:

“Justice Stevens has made an historic contribution to the Supreme Court.  He will be hard to replace.  It is my hope that the Senate will put partisanship aside in the confirmation process.”

(credit image – getty)

1 Comment

Filed under Supreme Court

One response to “Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens to Retire

  1. Ryder

    EVERYBODY in Washington needs to retire, quit or get fired. We need to start with fresh meat.

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