Publicly, at least, the Supreme Court did not note Justice John Paul Stevens' 90th birthday on Tuesday. But President Barack Obama did, in a note dated April 16 and released by the Court to the press on Tuesday. Never mind that it was addressed to Stevens at the wrong zip code (20002 instead of 20543.) It was probably hand delivered, and since it could only have been released with Stevens' approval, the justice must have felt pretty good about the letter. The text:
The Honorable John Paul Stevens
Supreme Court of the United States
1 First Street N.E.
Washington, District of Columbia 20002
Dear Justice Stevens,
In 1931, on the only other occasion that a sitting Supreme Court Justice celebrated his 90th birthday, President Hoover wrote the following to Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes: "I most cordially congratulate you upon your ninetieth birthday anniversary, but yet more do I congratulate our country upon the continuance of your splendid services and hope that you may long live in health and strength to carry them forward."
And so do I, on the occasion of your 90th birth day, congratulate both you and our country for your long and esteemed tenure in public service. For the last 35 years of your remarkable 90, the Nation has benefited from the rigor, courage, and integrity that have marked your service on the Supreme Court of the United States. With the thoughtfulness and humility of your questions from the bench, and the independence and wisdom you have brought to the judgments the Court has rendered, you have stood guardian of the Constitution and the rule of law and helped move this Nation towards that more perfect Union. Your retirement at the end of the Court's term will mark the completion of a judicial career, like that of Justice Holmes, that has left an undeniable imprint on our country's jurisprudence. Our system of justice, and our Nation, are stronger and fairer because of your sterling contributions.
On behalf of the country, I thank you for your distinguished service and wish you and your wife Maryan much happiness.