Veteran Supreme Court Justice Stevens Retiring

04.09.10 | FL News Team

Veteran Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens is retiring when the high court's term ends this summer. The liberal Stevens is about to turn 90, making him the the high court's oldest member. This will give President Obama an opportunity to make his second Supreme Court nomination. New York federal Judge Sonia Sotomayor [[ so-toe-my-YORE ]] was Obama's first high court pick. Stevens wrote a very short retirement letter to President Obama. He said it would be, quote, "in the best interests of the Court to have my successor appointed and confirmed well in advance of the commencement of the Court's next term." The next term opens in October.

 In recent weeks, there had been growing speculation about Justice Stevens' future. Stevens has been on the high court since 1975 after being nominated by President Gerald Ford. His retirement is not expected to alter the philosophical balance of the Supreme Court, which often leans to the conservative side on 5-4 votes. However, in an election year, a bitter partisan fight could ensue in the U.S. Senate over President Obama's choice.