Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens dies at 99

by Bamidele Ogunberu Posted on July 17th, 2019

Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, a leading liberal during his time on the high court, died Tuesday night at the age of 99, the Supreme Court announced.

In a statement, the Court said Stevens died at a hospital in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., due to complications following a stroke he suffered on Monday.

Stevens is survived by his two daughters, nine grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.

Stevens spent 35 years on the Supreme Court after he was nominated by then-President Gerald Ford in 1975. He saw seven different presidents and three chief justices during his time as a justice.

And he played a crucial role in key Supreme Court decisions, from voting to reinstate the death penalty in 1976 — a vote he later said he regretted — to authoring a blistering dissent of the court’s 2000 ruling in Bush v. Gore.

“He brought to our bench an inimitable blend of kindness, humility, wisdom, and independence,” Chief Justice John Roberts, who served alongside Stevens, said in a statement.

“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,” he added.

Stevens retired from the Supreme Court in 2010 at the age of 90, opening the door for former President Obama to appoint Justice Elena Kagan to the court.

But retirement didn’t render Stevens silent: He continued to speak out in recent years and even published a memoir in May.

Stevens also made headlines last year as he weighed in on Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s tumultuous confirmation process, saying he didn’t believe Kavanaugh should be confirmed due to allegations of sexual harassment against President Trump’s then-nominee.

And he didn’t steered clear of criticizing Trump, telling The Wall Street Journal earlier this year that he believes there are “things we should all be concerned about” when it comes to the sitting president’s approach to his executive authorities.

While Stevens led the court’s liberal bloc by the end of his tenure, he wasn’t necessarily eager to take on the label.

“I don’t think of myself as a liberal at all,” he told The New York Times in 2010. “Part of it is that people overlook the distinction between being a judicial liberal and a political liberal. I think as part of my general politics, I’m really pretty darn conservative.”

Ideological leanings aside, Stevens earned praise from those on both sides of the aisle for his service on the high court and his determination to guard it from any appearances that it wasn’t impartial.

“I am prepared to allow history’s judgment of my term in office to rest (if necessary, exclusively) on my nomination thirty years ago of Justice John Paul Stevens to the U.S. Supreme Court,” Ford wrote in a 2005 letter, one year ahead of his death.

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