Justice Stevens retires
The Hiller Instinct: Justice Stevens retires
Stevens will step down in late summer, when the current court session concludes.
President Obama will now get his second nomination to the Supreme Court.
His first was Sonia Sotomayor--who became the Supreme Court's first Hispanic justice.
"It is in the best interest of the Supreme Court to have a successor appointed and confirmed before the next term begins, and so I will move quickly to name a nominee, as I did with Justice Sotomayor,” Obama said.
Stevens' announcement came 11 days before his 90th birthday...and 35 years after he was nominated to the nation's highest court by former President Gerald Ford.
During his decades on the bench, Stevens was reliably liberal on the most controversial issues, including abortion, civil rights, and criminal law.
In Washington, the politicking surrounding a Supreme Court opening has already begun, with Democrats shooting for midsummer hearings, while Republicans say they will focus on judicial restraint.
According to the Obama Administration, the three leading candidates are Solicitor General Elena Kagan, and Federal Appeals Court Judges Merrick Garland and Diane Wood.
"While we cannot replace Justice Stevens' experience or wisdom, I will seek someone in the coming weeks with similar qualities," Obama said.
Justice Stevens' retirement will not change the basic ideology of the Supreme Court. Stevens is a liberal and so will whomever the president picks to replace him be.
What may change, though, is the way the court reaches its rulings. Stevens' persuasiveness with his fellow justices will be very difficult to replace.
(Copyright (c) 2010 Sunbeam Television Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)