Stevens thanked for his service
As Justice John Paul Stevens announced his retirement, The Washington Post set about collecting memorable anecdotes about Stevens from members of congress, fellow justices and members of the legal community. The anecdotes below came from public statements.
Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.)
While Justice Stevens' retirement is not unexpected, the loss of such a great leader at a time of great change for America and the Court is worrisome. Justice Stevens' greatness is marked not only by the length of his service, but the enduring quality of his jurisprudence. His leadership will affect America for much longer than the 35 years he served on the Court.
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)
John Paul Stevens has said that he never felt the need to break any records, but judging by his legendary vigor it seems highly likely that he could have shattered the record for longest-serving Supreme Court justice if he had wanted to. I commend Justice Stevens for his lifelong commitment to public service, from his early days fighting corruption in Chicago, to his work in naval intelligence during the Second World War, to his more than three decades on the nation's highest court. Even if Justice Stevens' liberalism has led to many decisions I oppose, I respect his devotion to the institution and the gentlemanly manner in which he always carried out his work. I wish Justice Stevens and his wife Maryan all the best in their future endeavors.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)
When the Supreme Court recesses on Justice Stevens' final day on the bench, it will mark the end of an extraordinary judicial career spanning four decades, including 35 years on our highest court. The last Justice from "the Greatest Generation," John Paul Stevens first answered the call to service when he joined the Navy during World War II. Our nation called on him again years later, and he returned to public service as an appellate judge before accepting President Ford's nomination to serve on the Supreme Court. He has since become one of the longest serving Justices on the Court. His confirmation was the first of a dozen Supreme Court nominations I have considered in my years in the Senate. As a young, freshman senator, it was a privilege to support his confirmation in 1975. Justice Stevens' unique and enduring perspective is irreplaceable; his stalwart adherence to the rule of law is unparalleled. The federal judiciary, and indeed the entire nation, will miss his principled jurisprudence. While it is with a heavy heart, I wish him the best in his retirement.
Nancy Keenan, President of NARAL Pro-Choice America
NARAL Pro-Choice America salutes Justice John Paul Stevens' commitment to public service. Stevens is among the strongest supporters of the right to choose currently serving on the Supreme Court, and his retirement serves as yet another stark reminder of the important role the Court plays in our everyday lives.
Stevens consistently voted to uphold American liberties, as set forth in the landmark Roe v. Wade decision. His record reflects a respect for individual freedom and opposition to political interference in our most personal, private decisions. Stevens' retirement now gives President Obama the opportunity to nominate a fair-minded individual who, like him and the majority of Americans, supports the constitutional right to privacy as reflected in Roe.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.
Associate Justice John Paul Stevens has earned the gratitude and admiration of the American people for his nearly 40 years of distinguished service to the Judiciary, including more than 34 years on the Supreme Court. He has enriched the lives of everyone at the Court through his intellect, independence, and warm grace. We have all been blessed to have John as our colleague and his wife Maryan as our friend. We will miss John's presence in our daily work, but will take joy in his and Maryan's continued friendship in the years ahead.
Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.)
Justice Stevens has been a strong presence on the Court for almost 35 years and worked to build consensus and protect the rule of law. I honor his service to America and wish him well in his retirement.
I am confident that President Obama will use the same wisdom that he showed with his nomination of Justice Sotomayor and name a well-qualified successor. I encourage my Republican colleagues to join us in conducting fair, respectful hearings and swift confirmation of the President's nominee.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.)
Justice Stevens devoted his career to our nation’s judicial system, participating in some of the most important cases in our history. While he and I may have different judicial philosophies, I thank Justice Stevens for his service, and I wish him well in his retirement.
Our nation deserves a Supreme Court nominee who is committed to deciding cases impartially based on the law, not on personal politics, preferences, or what’s in the nominee’s ‘heart.’ It is my expectation that Senators on both sides of the aisle will work to ensure both a dignified and respectful process for our next nominee.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)
Justice Stevens has had a profound impact on the judiciary and the law. He is a remarkably dedicated public servant and a profoundly decent human being. All Americans should thank him for his dedicated service and we all wish him a happy and healthy retirement.
Every President has an obligation to nominate Judges who understand and are committed to their proper role in our system of government. As I have said for many years, someone who would be an activist judge, who would substitute their own views for what the law requires, is not qualified to serve on the federal bench. The confirmation process should be fair and thorough, and the President’s nominee should be judged by this standard. I look forward to participating in this process when the President announces his nominee to the nation’s highest court.
Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.)
Justice Stevens has served on the Supreme Court with the utmost integrity, honor, and Midwestern sensibility. He contributed a lifetime of experience, knowledge, legal acumen and leadership to some of the most important legal issues in our nation’s history. I thank Justice Stevens for his lifetime commitment to public service; he will be greatly missed. I look forward to confirming a nominee that will carry on his distinguished legacy.
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.)
I hope President Obama’s pick will unite rather than divide the country,” Dr. Coburn said. “In my view, the nominee should have a demonstrated record of strictly interpreting the Constitution without ideological bias. I would also urge my colleagues to give the committee ample time to review the nominee. Any person nominated to a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court needs to have their record carefully and thoroughly reviewed.