John Paul Stevens: It’s okay for justices to take politics into account when retiring

Retired Supreme Court justice John Paul Stevens said it is appropriate for justices to take the political climate into account when thinking about retirement.

"I think so," Stevens said when asked by George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "This Week" if it is appropriate to take politics into account when deciding to retire.

"It's an appropriate thing to think about your successor, not only in this job," said Stevens, who retired in 2010 and was replaced by Justice Elena Kagan.  Stevens cited former defense secretary Robert Gates, who said in a new book that he was also concerned about who would take his place.

"If you're interested in the job and in the kind of work that's done, you have an interest in who's going to fill your shoes," Stevens said.

Stevens said he did not take politics into account when deciding to retire. "It was concern about my own health," he said.


Stevens, seated on the right, in the 1990 Supreme Court photo.

When asked if Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg -- about whom retirement rumors have been swirling -- asked for his advice on when to step down, Stevens said, "She doesn't need my advice."

Stevens said Ginsburg did ask him for counsel when she became the court's senior associate justice.

"And I gave her the same answer," Stevens said. "Ruth, you're fully capable of handling everything that comes along."

Stevens, 94, just penned a new book, "Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution."

Stevens calls for adding five words to the Second Amendment, changing it to "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms while serving in the Militia shall not be infringed." Because there are no state militias, the change would give the government no restrictions in regulating gun ownership.

Stevens also said that gerrymandering congressional districts should be unconstitutional.

"It doesn’t take a genius to say there’s something fishy about these districts," he said.


ABC US News | ABC Business News

Katie Zezima covers the White House for Post Politics and The Fix.
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