The release of today’s profile of Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens in the New Yorker has caused a flood of speculation around his retirement and the possibility of an Obama nominee to fill his seat.
The piece itself is a wonderful portrait of Justice Stevens who will turn 90 on April 20th of this year. He has been on the court since 1975, seven Presidents have come and gone in that time, and he is the oldest sitting justice by thirteen years. Stevens admitted to Toobin that he will definitely retire within the next three years, but says his options are still open to stay on the high court next year:
“Well, I still have my options open,” he said. “When I decided to just hire one clerk, three of my four clerks last year said they’d work for me next year if I wanted them to. So I have my options still. And then I’ll have to decide soon.” On March 8th, he told me that he would make up his mind in about a month.
As Toobin explains, even though Stevens was nominated by a Republican President, Gerald Ford, he is currently the “undisputed leader of the resistance against the conservatives on the Court.” Whenever he decides to retire, it will be hard to find a replacement who can fill his leadership role.