Tuesday, April 21, 2009
John Paul Stevens yesterday did what only one other Supreme Court justice has ever done: He celebrated his 89th birthday on the bench.
There was no observation of the event during the court's two hours of oral arguments; there never is. Instead, Stevens merely went about his polite questioning -- "May I just ask . . ." is the justice's trademark introduction -- and court-watchers made their annual checks of the record books.
He would need to keep at it until Feb. 24, 2011, according to court records, to pass Oliver Wendell Holmes as the oldest justice. Stevens, appointed to the bench in 1975, has now served longer than all but eight justices, and would have to remain on the court until mid-July 2012 to break the record for longest service, which is held by the man he replaced on the court, William O. Douglas.
-- Robert Barnes