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April 9, 2010

It's official: Justice John Paul Stevens is calling it quits this summer

This AP report provides the text of Justice John Paul Stevens' retirement letter to President Barack Obama, which reads as follows:

Having concluded that it would be in the best interests of the Court to have my successor appointed and confirmed well in advance of the commencement of the Court's next term, I shall retire from regular active service as an Associate Justice, under the provisions of 28 U.S.C. 371 (b), effective the next day after the Court rises for the summer recess this year.

I think it is notable (and astute) that Justice Stevens reports that his retirement will be effective as of this summer, not when a replacement is confirmed.  This means that, come July, the Supreme Court will be short a Justice unless and until a new Justice is confirmed.

This is obviously huge legal (and politicial) news for lots and lots and lots of reasons.  But in this space, of course, I will focus on what this may mean for the future of capital and non-capital sentencing jurisprudence (and may also do a series of posts reflecting on Justice Stevens' extraordinary contribution to this jurisprudence over the last 35+ years).

UPDATE:  For those seeking lots of links to major coverage of the coming SCOTUS transition, How Appealing is the place to start.  For those seeking substantive analysis, the National Law Journal has a new group blog, Speaking of Stevens, and the National Journal has a Ninth Justice nomination blog (and, of couse, SCOTUSblog is always a must on all SCOTUS fronts.)

I am already overwhelmed by all the discussion and punditry surrounding these developments, and I am also already underhwelmed (but not surprised) by how much (or, should I say little) attention that criminal justice issues are getting.

April 9, 2010 at 11:31 AM | Permalink


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In an interesting bit of timing, the February 2010 issue of UC Davis Law Review is a special issue on Justice Stevens.

See http://lawreview.law.ucdavis.edu/home.php?page=issues_current&group=issues.

Posted by: Alex Blackwell | Apr 9, 2010 7:16:52 PM

Why does betrayal of principle go only in one direction on the Supreme Court? You get conservative jurists like Stevens turning to left wing horrible decisions. You never get liberal jurists turning to conservative decisions. I am sure people get corrupted by the surrounding Washington culture, try to fit in with the holders of other powers, and other standard explanations.

But here is the real reason. Left wing decisions increase procedure, and lawyer employment. This once conservative jurist signed the death warrants of millions of viable babies. History will view him as a mass murderer. Then, the obverse, he saved the lives and immunized thousands of vicious, heartless, homicidal maniac predators. This is the formula for pure evil and grand criminality.

Why do so much pure evil and commit such gigantic crimes against humanity? To generate lawyer jobs. Money.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Apr 10, 2010 2:00:21 PM

Evan Bayh.

Posted by: mpb | Apr 10, 2010 8:38:51 PM

Laurence Tribe. The wingnuts will go scorched earth regardless of who Obama nominates. Why not pick a nominee worth the fight?

Posted by: John K | Apr 10, 2010 10:50:27 PM

John K --

Because Tribe is 68 years old and is actually capable of non-ideological thinking every now and again. Obama doesn't want either quality. You know, let's just rule in favor of the single mom; to heck with the law.

Why not Goodwin Liu? The guy has never had anything but a left wing thought in his life, and is only 39.

Let's have a battle over Liu and let the electorate decide in seven months whether it wants to stay on Obama's path.

P.S. Do you mean the "wingnuts" will go scorched earth over Nominee X like the America Stinks contingent went scorched earth over John Roberts?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Apr 10, 2010 11:39:38 PM

After reading Obama comments today I am comfortable that Kagen will not be the nominee. If fact, out of the top three I think Wood has to be the front runner now. Or Clinton...

Posted by: Daniel | Apr 12, 2010 1:57:29 AM

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