Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens passed away on Tuesday at the age of 99 after suffering complications from a stroke that occurred the day before.
Justice Stevens dead at 99
The Daily Caller reported that Stevens enjoyed one of the longest tenures on the high court at 35 years, having been nominated to serve in 1975 by Republican President Gerald Ford and retiring from the court in 2010.
Stevens’ 2010 retirement was also preceded by a minor stroke, and his vacant seat on the court was filled by Justice Elena Kagan, who was nominated by Democrat President Barack Obama.
Though Stevens was nominally a Republican and was placed on the court by a GOP president, arguably the chief legacy of his tenure was his steady shift toward the left to increasingly side with his liberal colleagues on a host of issues.
Fondly remembered by colleagues
In a news release from the Supreme Court, Chief Justice John Roberts lauded the retired justice, saying: “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.
“He brought to our bench an inimitable blend of kindness, humility, wisdom, and independence. His unrelenting commitment to justice has left us a better nation. We extend our deepest condolences to his children Elizabeth and Susan, and to his extended family,” Roberts added.
The release noted that Stevens was born in Chicago in 1920, served in the U.S. Navy from 1942 to 1945 in World War II, then attended college and graduated from law school after the war.
Stevens’ first work at the high court began in 1947 as a clerk for Justice Wiley Rutledge. As an attorney in the 1950s, he served in a legal capacity with a congressional committee and then in the attorney general’s office, prior to being nominated as a judge to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, where he served from 1970 to 1975.
Nominated by a Republican, sided with liberals
The Daily Caller noted that Stevens sided with the liberal justices more often than not — though certainly not always — during his tenure and became something of a progressive hero over time, despite his Republican roots.
After his 2010 retirement from the court, Stevens would occasionally weigh in publicly with his thoughts on the political issues of the day, most notably in 2018 when he called for the repeal of the Second Amendment in favor of strict gun control.
Also in 2018, Stevens publicly criticized now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh during the confirmation process, breaking a long-standing, though unwritten, rule of current and former justices to refrain from commenting on judicial nominees.
Stevens is survived by two daughters and nine grandchildren and was preceded in death by two wives, a son, and a daughter.