John Paul Stevens, Liberal Lion & 3rd Longest-Serving Supreme Court Justice, Dies At 99
John Paul Stevens, the third longest-serving Supreme Court Justice ever, died at the age of 99 on Tuesday after suffering a stroke the day before.
Stevens, who started out as a Republican from Chicago, served on the court from December 1975 to June 2010, when he retired at the age of 90. He was the second oldest judge to retire, coming just months short of beating out Oliver Wendell Holmes for the record.
Stevens was first nominated to the Supreme Court by President Gerald Ford, who appreciated his nonpartisan spirit and his remarkable judicial skills, as a replacement for William Douglas after the liberal suffered a debilitating stroke. The president also assumed that Stevens, an unassuming man with no skeletons in his closet, would make for an easy confirmation by the Senate. Ford was correct, and Stevens sailed through his confirmation vote 98-0.
Stevens began his tenure on America’s most powerful legal body as a conservative, frequently siding with the more right-wing members of the court. In 1976 he authored the majority in Gregg v. Georgia, which reinstated the death penalty in the country. He also supported the ruling in the Bakke case which opposes affirmative action and a 1978 ruling that upheld obscenity laws regarding broadcasting.
Over the course of his many years on the bench, Stevens gradually shifted to the left, reversing his views on subjects such as the death penalty and affirmative action. In a 2008 decision he announced that he believed the death penalty was unconstitutional, and Steves formed part of the 5-4 majority in the 2003 Grutter v. Bollinger case that supported affirmative action.
His death sparked an outpouring of support from all sides of the political spectrum. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) tweeted, “Justice Stevens was a remarkable man. He was the leading liberal on the Court & he was brilliant & full of grace & class.”
Justice Stevens was a remarkable man. He was the leading liberal on the Court & he was brilliant & full of grace & class. Having argued 9 cases before SCOTUS, I can tell you first-hand there was no more dangerous or effective questioner than Justice Stevens. May he Rest In Peace. https://t.co/JIQCNfMzx5
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) July 17, 2019
President Trump and his wife also shared their condolences in a statement, mentioning his “passion for the law and our country.”