WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former Justice John Paul Stevens, a Republican appointee to the U.S. Supreme Courtroom who later grew to become an outspoken chief of the liberal wing because the court docket moved to the fitting, died on Tuesday at age 99.
Chief Justice John Roberts poses for a 2006 class picture contained in the Supreme Courtroom in Washington March three, 2006. REUTERS/Larry Downing
Stevens, who retired from the court docket in 2010 on the age of 90, died at a hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, of issues from a stroke he suffered on Monday, a press release issued by the Supreme Courtroom mentioned.
He was appointed by President Gerald Ford in 1975 and have become one of many longest-serving justices in U.S. historical past. Nonetheless in good well being when he left the bench, he carved out a brand new function as a critic of a few of his former colleagues on points comparable to voting rights, marketing campaign finance and the demise penalty.
“He dropped at our bench an inimitable mix of kindness, humility, knowledge, and independence. His unrelenting dedication to justice has left us a greater nation,” Chief Justice John Roberts mentioned within the assertion.
The idiosyncratic Stevens, identified for sporting a bow tie together with his conventional black robes and for his love of tennis, initially constructed a document as a maverick with a fame as a non-partisan, extremely impartial jurist. His views advanced throughout his time on the bench, not least on the demise penalty, which he initially supported. He introduced in 2008 that he believed it was unconstitutional.
Stevens, as soon as on the ideological middle of the court docket and one in all its sharpest thinkers and greatest writers, usually wrote separate concurring or dissenting opinions that mirrored his hard-to-label judicial philosophy. He was additionally extensively identified for his well mannered demeanor when questioning the legal professionals earlier than him, in distinction to a few of his extra combative colleagues.
Because the court docket moved to the fitting within the early 1990s underneath Chief Justice William Rehnquist, Stevens grew to become the chief of the liberal faction on the nine-justice court docket that included three different justices. That continued when Roberts changed Rehnquist in 2005, with the justices usually sharply divided on social points.
Stevens embraced different liberal positions by supporting abortion and homosexual rights, gun restrictions, limits on authorities help for faith and legalization of marijuana.
He retired in 2010, permitting Democratic President Barack Obama to choose his substitute, liberal Justice Elena Kagan.
Stevens was thought of an excellent tactician and sometimes constructed coalitions that gained a court docket majority, comparable to in rulings that rejected the George W. Bush administration’s authorized positions within the battle on terrorism.
He wrote the court docket’s opinions that detainees on the U.S. navy base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba might problem their confinement in U.S. courts and that struck down as unlawful the navy tribunal system for terrorism suspects.
In 2007, Stevens additionally wrote the court docket’s opinion that handed the Bush administration a defeat by ruling U.S. environmental officers have the facility to control greenhouse fuel emissions that contribute to local weather change.
Earlier in his profession, he wrote the bulk opinion in an notorious 1978 obscenity case regarding a public radio station’s broadcast of a colourful monologue by comic George Carlin known as “Filthy Phrases.” Stevens mentioned the Federal Communications Fee might impose fines for the published of offensive phrases in a ruling that was seen as a blow to First Modification freedoms.
Stevens was identified all through his profession for his dissenting opinions, most notably in 2000 when the court docket’s 5-Four ruling halted poll recounts in Florida and successfully gave the presidency to Republican Bush over Democrat Al Gore.
“Though we might by no means know with full certainty the id of the winner of this 12 months’s presidential election, the id of the loser is completely clear. It’s the nation’s confidence within the decide as an neutral guardian of the rule of regulation,” Stevens wrote in dissent.
In one in all his final main opinions, Stevens delivered an impassioned dissent in January 2010 from the court docket’s ruling on the Residents United case that allowed firms to spend freely on candidates for president and Congress.
“The court docket’s ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected establishments throughout the nation,” Stevens mentioned as he learn his dissent from the bench.
Stevens grew to become extra outspoken in his views after he retired and was overtly essential of the more and more conservative court docket he left behind.
He printed “Six Amendments” in 2014, his proposals for altering the U.S. Structure to tighten gun management and restrict cash in politics, amongst different issues. In 2018, he advocated repealing the Second Modification to the U.S. Structure, which ensures the fitting to bear arms.
The final time Stevens made headlines was in October final 12 months when he intervened within the affirmation battle over President Donald Trump’s second Supreme Courtroom nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.
He mentioned Kavanaugh, who confronted allegations of sexual misconduct relationship again to his teenage years, shouldn’t be confirmed by the U.S. Senate due to partisan feedback the nominee made at his affirmation listening to. Kavanaugh was finally confirmed.
Born on April 20, 1920, to a rich household in Chicago, Stevens served within the U.S. Navy throughout World Struggle Two and helped crack Japanese communication codes. He graduated from Northwestern College’s regulation faculty and labored on the Supreme Courtroom as a regulation clerk to Justice Wiley Rutledge in 1947-48.
He got here to prominence as a member of a fee that pressured the resignation of two Illinois Supreme Courtroom justices.
Stevens’ tenure on the Supreme Courtroom started on Dec. 19, 1975, after his nomination was rapidly and unanimously accredited by the Senate.
He got here to Ford’s consideration after distinguishing himself on the U.S. Courtroom of Appeals in Chicago, a place to which he was appointed by President Richard Nixon in 1970.
Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Enhancing by Peter Cooney and Paul Tait