As Justice John Paul Stevens Steps Down, Interest in His Potential Replacement Intensifies

The Los Angeles Times today, in a brief timeline, sums up the 90-year lifetime achievements of one of the nation’s renowned U.S. Supreme Court justices. It focuses on major milestones including his birth, law school graduation, career moves, marriages and children. (Another Los Angeles Times article lists some of his landmark opinions.)

But it was in day-to-day matters as well as landmark rulings that Associate Justice John Paul Stevens played a role that his replacement will be hard-pressed to emulate, now that Stevens has decided to retire from the bench, reports the On Liberty blog of the Boston Globe.

“Perhaps due to his early years as a practicing lawyer, Justice Stevens always was highly attuned to the facts of a case. He never forgot that the lives of real human beings are affected by legal rulings,” the post recounts. “Such real-world experience will be sorely missed, particularly when compared to the academic backgrounds and abstract judicial reasoning of many of the current justices and potential nominees.”

His colleagues on the supreme court bench simultaneously speak of his kindness and decency as they express admiration of his brilliant mind.

Who President Barack Obama will nominate to try to continue in Stevens’ mighty footsteps is now the question on every mind, and, although the White House says 10 candidates are under consideration, observers are focusing on three seeming front-runners, reports the Associated Press.

They are: Solicitor General Elena Kagan, 49, and two U.S. Court of Appeals judges, Merrick Garland, 57, of Washington, D.C., and Diane Wood, 59, of Chicago, as an earlier post also noted.

“We cannot replace Justice Stevens’ experience or wisdom,” said Obama. But he promised to nominate someone “with similar qualities: an independent mind, a record of excellence and integrity, a fierce dedication to the rule of law and a keen understanding of how the law affects the daily lives of the American people.”

Additional coverage:

Christian Science Monitor: “Filling John Paul Stevens Supreme Court vacancy big test for Obama”

Houston Belief (Houston Chronicle): “Stevens, the Supreme Court’s last Protestant, leaving”

Post Partisan (Washington Post): “John Paul Stevens, American”

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