Justice Stevens will leave in summer



We've all known it was coming, but now it's official: Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens will step down in late June or early July. Stevens, 89, is the court's oldest member.

Though he was appointed by Gerald Ford, Stevens consistently voted the liberal line whether on abortion rights, the limiting of the death penalty, the separation of church and state, or affirmative action. He sided with the minority of the court in Bush v. Gore, the case that ended the recounts in Florida and allowed George W. Bush to take the presidency.

With Stevens' retirement, President Barack Obama will get his second chance to appoint a justice. He will likely be hoping that the confirmation process for his choice will be less strained that it was for his first appointment, Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

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