John Paul Stevens, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court

John Paul StevensJohn Paul Stevens (born April 20, 1920) is the senior Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. He joined the Supreme Court in 1975 and is the oldest member of the Court. He was appointed to the Court by Republican President Gerald Ford. Stevens is widely considered to be on the liberal side of the court. Ford praised Stevens in 2005: "He is serving his nation well, with dignity, intellect and without partisan political concerns." He is also the only current Justice to have served with three Chief Justices (Warren E. Burger, William Rehnquist, and John G. Roberts).

President Richard Nixon appointed Stevens as a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on November 20, 1970. In 1975, President Gerald Ford nominated him as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court to replace Justice William O. Douglas who had recently retired. He took his seat December 19, 1975, after being confirmed 98–0 by the Senate.

When Harry Blackmun retired in 1994, Stevens became the senior Associate Justice. As the senior Associate Justice, Stevens assumes the administrative duties of the court whenever the post of Chief Justice of the United States is vacant or the Chief Justice is unable to perform his duties. Justice Stevens performed the duties of Chief Justice in September 2005, between the death of Chief Justice William Rehnquist and the swearing-in of new Chief Justice John Roberts, and has presided over oral arguments on a number of occasions when the Chief Justice was ill or recused.

Stevens is currently the sixth-longest-serving justice in the history of the Court. He will surpass Justice William O. Douglas as the longest-serving if he serves beyond July 15, 2012. In September 2009 Stevens confirmed that he had only hired one clerk for the Supreme Court term beginning in October 2010. This contrasts with his typical pattern of hiring four clerks a year in advance of the following term and has led to speculation that he may be preparing to retire.¹

John Paul Stevens Quotes

"The government must pursue a course of complete neutrality toward religion."
"To show a "well-founded fear of persecution," an alien need not prove that it is more likely than not that he or she will be persecuted in his or her home country."

"One thing, however, is certain. 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."

"It is not our job to apply laws that have not yet been written."

"Just as the right to speak and the right to refrain from speaking are complementary components of a broader concept of individual freedom of mind, so also the individual's freedom to choose his own creed is the counterpart of his right to refrain from accepting the creed established by the majority."

Noteworthy Sites

  • ¹ John Paul Stevens - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  • Book - Illinois Justice: The Scandal of 1969 and the Rise of John Paul Stevens
  • Books on The Supreme Court
  • All Supreme Court Posters & Prints
  • John Paul Stevens Biographical Profile
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