[Updated at 11:02 a.m.] Read our full CNN.com story
[Updated at 10:53 a.m.] A representative from the Supreme Court delivered a letter from Justice Stevens to the White House at 1030 a.m. announcing his intention to retire this summer, a White House official told CNN.
[Updated at 10:48 a.m.] Justice John Paul Stevens' decision to retire after nearly 35 years on the bench will give President Barack Obama another opportunity to shape the nation's highest court.
Stevens, who turns 90 on April 20, was not on the bench for a brief public session Monday; the court will hold its next public session in two weeks.
Speculation over Stevens had increased after he confirmed last fall he had hired only one law clerk for the next court term, which begins in October. Sitting justices can hire four law clerks, while retired members only get one.
The White House has quietly but actively prepared for weeks in anticipation of a vacancy, government sources told CNN.
Obama nominated Justice Sonia Sotomayor last year, putting the first Hispanic on the court. Democrats cited that choice as a uniting force among progressives, saying it gave the president a signature moment in his first year in office. White House officials privately express hope another high-profile nomination would build political momentum in an election year.
"There isn't an immediate candidate who could give them just as much [in] the second go-around," said Thomas Goldstein, a prominent Washington lawyer and founder of Scotusblog online. "There isn't a candidate who has Justice Sotomayor's personal history and also her ethnic background. But I think that the model for the administration is probably the same - get someone in there who doesn't generate a lot of political heat against you and is a relatively easy person to confirm."
[Updated at 10:44 a.m.] CNN has obtained Justice John Paul Stevens' letter announcing his intention to retire. (See the PDF)
"My dear Mr. President:
Having concluded that it would be in the best interests of the Court to have my successor appointed and confirmed well in advance of the commencement of the Court's next Term, I shall retire from regular active service as an Associate Justice, under the provisions of 28 D.S.C. ¬ß 371(b), effective the next day after the Court rises for the summer recess this year.
Most respectfully yours,
John Paul Stevens"
[Posted at 10:36 a.m.] Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens will retire, the Supreme Court press office said Friday.