April 9th, 2010
10:53 AM ET

Supreme Court John Paul Stevens to retire

[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.

Read Justice Stevens' letter (PDF) | What's your reaction? Who should replace him?

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)

It reads:

"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. § 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.

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soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Zevie

    So who does Obama nominate? I suspect it will be someone young, radical and interested in the demise of capitalism, freedom and individual liberty. someone just like himself.

    April 9, 2010 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Janene

      Has everyone forgotten the Bush administrations Patriot Act? That curtailed more freedoms than anything thus far...

      April 9, 2010 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Glen

    Why would you not put other relevant pieces of information about this story... what his past leanings are; liberal or conservative leanings, how it will effect the administration, upcoming cases, what possible canditates offer, who the administration will likely nominate... etc... I realize that other articules have covered much of that but it doesn't look good when you have a breaking story and only have 2 sentences covering it.

    April 9, 2010 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  3. Jim

    With immence thanks to a great American who served his country with integrity, respect and honor. Unfortunately, the republicans will now have something new to whine about when someone (anyone) is nominated to replace him. And, the trash talking haters will light up this board with disrespectful comments about this honorable hardworking man. God help America

    April 9, 2010 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  4. Brent

    I second that Jim, John Paul Stevens was a good man and God help America.
    "Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year's Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation's confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law."-John Paul Stevens 2000

    April 9, 2010 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Al

    This would be a great oppotunity to put a very liberal judge to just piss off the tea party people and their far right brethrens in congress aka republicans.

    April 9, 2010 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Beverly

    Women are 52% of the population but only 2 of 9 (22%) on the court and Justice Ginsberg is not well. I would vote for a female to be appointed. There is also an opportunity at this time to select an African-American jurist (female) in the Thurgood Marshall tradition. surely there are many who qualify.

    April 9, 2010 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  7. James

    Hopefully the President will replace Justice Stevens with someone of progressive views which will cause the Republicans and teabaggers to start whining like little girls again and hopefully no more attacks on freedom like the Patriot Act will be approved again!

    April 9, 2010 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Huditha

    It's okay with me. I'd like another Obama pick on the supreme court, especially if it's someone like me and one of the people who isn't interested in letting money rule the country.

    April 9, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. robert

    the good thing is this.....no matter who he nominates,the liberals are stillin the minority.

    April 10, 2010 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |