WASHINGTON--The Obama White House learned of Justice John Paul Stevens decision to retire in a letter the White House received at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, giving President Obama his second appointment to the court. Stevens, a Chicago native, signaled his impending resignation in recent interviews. A senior administration official tells me Obama is expected to address Stevens departure when he returns from Prague this afternoon. Stevens will turn 90 on April 20.
Stevens one paragraph letter started, "My dear Mr. President:"
"Having concluded that it woul 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 as Associate Justice....effective the next day after the Court rises for the summer recess this year."
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said in a statement, "Justice John Paul Stevens, a native Chicagoan, is widely seen as one of the wisest and most accomplished jurists of our time. The fourth-longest-serving Justice in U.S. history, Justice Stevens' judicial philosophy may be hard to label but his integrity is rock solid. A lifetime in the law and the courage to speak his mind (see Bush v. Gore and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission) make him a national treasure on our highest court."
"In the tradition of the President who nominated him, Gerald Ford, Justice Stevens has been a moderate, independent voice on a Court now dominated by conservative ideologues. Justice Stevens' commitment to expanding freedom, safeguarding our rights and liberties, and understanding the challenges faced by ordinary Americans will be his legal legacy. He has had no judicial agenda other than fidelity to the law and the Constitution."
"Now the President and the Senate must work together to honor his service with a justice who can honestly aspire to the high standard of public service Justice Stevens set."