Law & the Courts

Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens Dead at 99

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens departs the funeral of Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, February 20, 2016. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

John Paul Stevens, who served on the Supreme Court for 35 years, died Tuesday night at a Florida hospital from complications resulting from a stroke he suffered the previous day. He was 99.

“Retired Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, John Paul Stevens, died this evening at Holy Cross Hospital in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, of complications following a stroke he suffered on July 15. He passed away peacefully with his daughters by his side. He was 99 years old,” the Supreme Court said in a statement.

Stevens, who was nominated to the court by president Gerald Ford in 1975, was the second oldest and second longest serving justice when he retired in 2010 at age 90.

Chief Justice John Roberts praised Stevens for his life of service in a statement released Tuesday evening.

“On behalf of the Court and retired Justices, I am saddened to report that our colleague Justice John Paul Stevens has passed away. A son of the Midwest heartland and a veteran of World War II, Justice Stevens devoted his long life to public service, including 35 years on the Supreme Court. He brought to our bench an inimitable blend of kindness, humility, wisdom, and independence. His unrelenting commitment to justice has left us a better nation. We extend our deepest condolences to his children Elizabeth and Susan, and to his extended family,” the statement read.

Despite his appointment by a Republican, Stevens emerged as an anchor of the court’s liberal wing later in his career, voting to broaden Roe v. Wade, limit the death penalty, and sure-up voting rights.

Stevens will also be remembered for his dissent in Bush v. Gore, the hotly contested decision that halted the Florida recount in the 2000 presidential election and ensured George W. Bush’s victory.

“Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year’s presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear,” Stevens wrote at the time. “It is the nation’s confidence in the judge as the impartial guardian of the rule of law.”

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