The Supreme Court has just released statements by Justice Stevens' colleagues reacting to his retirement announcement. We had the statement from Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. earlier today, here. Comments by his seven other colleagues, as well as from retired justices Sandra Day O'Connor and David Souter, follow:
Associate Justice Antonin Scalia: John Paul Stevens leaves behind a distinguished career of service on the federal bench, first on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and then, for the last 34 years, on this Court. He has authored a significant number of our landmark opinions, but that alone would be a misleading indicator of his impact. In many, many cases where he did not write he brought to Conference brilliant and distinctive insights that affected the outcome. I shall miss his brilliance, and his companionship.
Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy: For decades John Stevens did more than follow standards of judicial excellence. He set them. He insists on the mastery of every case, clarity in thought and expression, courtesy to colleagues and counsel, and, above all, unquestioned independence and integrity. He demonstrates that to fulfill its role the judiciary must remain capable of attracting to its ranks those lawyers who are preeminent in the profession. His love for this Nation is evident from his distinguished service in World War II, his years at the bar, and his career as a jurist. It is a historic privilege for me to have John Stevens as an admired, splendid colleague, and devoted, wonderful friend.
Associate Justice Clarence Thomas: I am deeply honored to have served with Justice Stevens. From my first days on the Court and throughout our time together, he has been a model of kindness and decency. I will treasure the years I have been privileged to work with him. I am certain that he will be remembered for his keen intellect and his prodigious body of work here at the Court. And, he should be. I consider it my good fortune to have served so long with him and to know that he is my friend. Virginia and I will miss him and Maryan.
Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: John Paul Stevens is the very best and most collegial of jurists. On the bench, his polite “May I . . . ,” invites advocates to get to the nub of the case. Work from other chambers invariably takes precedence over all else on his agenda. I will miss his bright company, but his caring opinions, sometimes pathmarking, sometimes prophetic, remain to inspire generations of judges, lawyers, and law students.
Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer: Ever since I have known John Stevens I have recognized that he is a model of intelligence, judicial wisdom, decency, and common sense. All of us on the Court will miss his service here. So will the Nation.
Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito: I was deeply saddened to learn that Justice Stevens will be leaving the Court at the end of this Term. He will surely be remembered as one of the most important Justices to serve on the Court, and his contributions to the law will long endure. No one could hope for a better colleague, and it has been a distinct honor for me to have had the opportunity to serve with him for the past four years. I wish John and Maryan all the best in the years ahead.
Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor: It would have been my wish to have served longer with John Paul Stevens. I thank my new friend for his warm welcome and shared wisdom, as well as for his immeasurable contributions to the Court and our country. One Term together was not long enough for me, but I will treasure our service together and all I have learned from him for the remainder of my time on the Court.
Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (Retired): Justice John Stevens is remarkable. Although close to 90 years of age, he is in splendid physical condition and his mind is as sharp as ever. He has been a splendid, efficient and hardworking Justice for 34 years and the Court will miss him greatly.
Associate Justice David Souter (Retired): Justice Stevens is the gold standard of intellectual integrity and personal decency, and the Nation’s debt to him is incalculable. Besides, he’s a friend of mine, which makes me as lucky as anyone can get.