Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens was not on the bench when the Court convened this morning, and no announcement was made about plans to retire -- or not to. Of course, it's not unusual for Stevens and other justices to be absent on the third Monday of an argument cycle, with no oral arguments on tap, and on this Monday, also no decisions to announce. Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. was on hand, as were Justices Samuel Alito Jr., Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas. Stevens, Stephen Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor were absent.
Orders were announced, new members were sworn into the Supreme Court bar, the gavel banged and the justices retreated from view until the Court sits next on April 19. If he was following his usual pattern, Stevens has already winged his way to his Florida condo for the recess period.
The Court's recess does not necessarily mean that Stevens will wait until the next session of the Court to make any announcement. Many retirement announcements have been made off the bench, in letters to the President that are released or leaked. Justice Thurgood Marshall famously waited until the afternoon of the final day of the Court's session in 1991, hours after the justices left the bench, to make his retirement plans public.
All this renewed talk about when or if Stevens will leave has been triggered by a round of interviews he gave late last week here, here, and here. In one interview he hedged on when he might make his announcement, while in another he made it sound imminent. Overall, the betting in D.C. seems to lean toward a retirement announcement in the next month, but if anyone other than Stevens claims to know, beware. Meantime, Stevens turns 90 on April 20.