Justice John Paul Stevens

Justice Stevens
Justice Stevens (J. Scott Applewhite - AP)
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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Justice John Paul Stevens wore a bright red bow tie Tuesday and celebrated his 90th birthday in a way only one other American ever has: as a member of the Supreme Court.

There was no mention of the milestone during the court's public appearance, as the justices issued an opinion and heard an argument. But President Obama took note of the occasion, as Stevens joined Oliver Wendell Holmes as the only men who started their 10th decades on the court.

Obama said President Herbert Hoover sent Holmes a note that day. "And so do I, on the occasion of your 90th birthday, congratulate both you and our country for your long and esteemed tenure in public service.

"For the last 35 years of your remarkable 90, the nation has benefited from the rigor, courage and integrity that have marked your service. . . . With the thoughtfulness and humility of your questions from the bench, and the independence and wisdom you have brought to the judgments the court has rendered, you have stood guardian of the Constitution and the rule of law and helped move this nation towards that more perfect union," Obama wrote.

Stevens announced April 9 that he will retire at the end of the court's term this summer.

Read the full letter at http://voices.washingtonpost.com/44

-- Robert Barnes

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