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Remembering Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens

Retired high court justice dies at 99

Retired Justice John Paul Stevens, who served on the Supreme Court for almost 35 years, died July 16, 2019, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, from complications from a stroke he had the previous day.

"A son of the Midwest heartland and a veteran of World War II, Justice Stevens devoted his long life to public service, including 35 years on the Supreme Court,” Chief Justice John Roberts said in a statement. “He brought to our bench an inimitable blend of kindness, humility, wisdom and independence."

President Gerald Ford nominated Stevens, who lived to be 99, to the top court in 1975. Stevens began serving on the court in December that year, and retired in June 2010.

Although he was nominated by a Republican president, Stevens often agreed with the liberal side of the bench on issues such as the death penalty, affirmative action, and Bush v Gore. His strongly worded dissent stated that ending the Florida vote recount 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.”

The third-longest-serving Supreme Court justice spoke with AARP in June 2011 to discuss his retirement and the highlight of his career.

In his early years on the high court, Stevens had asked one of his “law clerks to make a study of the retirement ages of all the justices who preceded me and figure out what the average would be.” The conclusion? 70 or 75.

"I didn't follow his recommendation,” Stevens said after he retired at 90.

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