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Special-edition round-up: Stevens’ retirement

The Associated Press was one of the first, if not the first, news organizations to report this morning that Justice Stevens has announced his intention to retire after the Court begins its summer recess in late June or early July.   A statement by Chief Justice Roberts regarding Stevens’ retirement appeared soon thereafter from the AP.  We have collected below some of the many stories that have appeared so far today, organized loosely by subject.

The retirement announcement was covered widely by, among others, the Los Angeles Times, Reuters, the Washington Post, ABC News, CBS News, NPR, the Christian Science Monitor, Politico, the  Atlantic, and the BBC.  The WSJ Law Blog explains the statute mentioned in the retirement letter that Stevens sent to President Obama.  CNN’s Political Ticker blog reports that the announcement caught one of Stevens’ daughters by surprise.

With the announcement, the life and career of John Paul Stevens entered the spotlight.  At the New York Times, Adam Liptak suggests that Stevens “may be the last justice from a time when ability and independence, rather than perceived ideology, were viewed as the crucial qualifications for a seat on the court.”  At NPR, Nina Totenberg reviews Stevens’ tenure as a judge, both on the Seventh Circuit and at the Court, noting that he was a frequent dissenter (not  a “go along” judge), while Tony Mauro at the National Law Journal characterizes Stevens as a “consummate dealmaker,” in the words of Supreme Court practitioner Andrew Pincus.  Bloomberg (via Business Week) Greg Stohr focuses on the view that Stevens “evolved from a maverick who would often write solitary opinions to a coalition builder and leader of the court’s liberal wing,” while Andrew Romano at Newsweek’s blog The Gaggle makes a case for describing Stevens’ work as conservative.  In the Washington Post, three former Stevens law clerks write that “Stevens’s tireless efforts to explain rather than mask his potentially fallible judgment calls seem almost heretical.”  Even if President Obama is able to find an ideological match for Stevens, says Charles Lane, a columnist at the Washington Post, he will have a tough time finding a replacement who will “bring the same civility to the court.”  Joan Biskupic of USA Today and David Graham of Newsweek compile lists of highlights from the justice’s Supreme Court opinions.

Some blogs and news services are aggregating reactions to Stevens’ retirement by other leaders, such as activists (WSJ Washington Wire blog) and lawyers and politicians (National Journal Online and the AP).

Other eyes are turned toward the nomination and confirmation of a successor to Stevens.  CNN suggests that President Obama could name a successor within days, given that nine of the past fourteen Supreme Court nominees were named within six days.  Tony Mauro at the BLT interprets Obama’s remarks this afternoon as laying out a timeline of “weeks” until a replacement is nominated. As the Associated Press and Fox News report, Obama praised Stevens while hinting at qualities he is looking for in a successor: “We cannot replace Justice Stevens’ experience or wisdom…I’ll seek someone in the coming weeks with similar qualities: an independent mind, a record of excellence and integrity, a fierce dedication to the rule of law and a keen understanding of how the law affects the daily lives of the American people. It will also be someone who, like Justice Stevens, knows that in democracy powerful interests must not be allowed to drown out the voices of ordinary citizens.”

CBS News reports that Republican senators are preparing for a battle over the next nominee’s confirmation.  Meanwhile, at, Steve Kornacki points out that only one Court nominee (Robert Bork) has been defeated by the Senate over the last twenty-five years, arguing that Republicans will not be successful in blocking any nominee – even one perceived as highly ideological.   At a Washington Post blog, E. J. Dionne’s “hunch” is that President Obama may “pick the one who appears most liberal for this spot.”  Andrew Cohen at Vanity Fair urges the president to nominate someone with political or business experience, and not necessarily a sitting judge (as are two of the three widely named front runners – Merrick Garland and Diane Wood).

At the Washington Post online, Chris Cillizza discusses how Stevens’ retirement could shape campaign debates leading up to the mid-term elections in November.

Finally, for a visual display of Stevens’ career, see Talking Point Memos’ gallery of photos.