Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has stated that he “will surely” retire while President Barack Obama is still in office — leaving open only whether he will retire this year or wait later in Obama’s term.
The likelihood is that Stevens will announce his retirement soon. Waiting until next year could throw the nomination into doubt with the mid-term elections approaching. Obama may also feel less able to appoint a solid liberal as he approaches his second term. Obama was criticized by some liberals for his appointment of Sonia Sotomayor, who ruled with the conservatives on the Second Circuit on a number of important cases. Waiting until next year would decrease the chances of a strong liberal nomination and could imperil confirmation given Obama’s failing popularity in the polls and resurgent GOP campaigning.
Stevens was nominated to the court by Republican President Gerald R. Ford in 1975 and is the seventh-longest-serving justice with more than 34 years on the court. He is also the second oldest justice to sit on the Court — after Oliver Wendell Holmes.
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