News / USA

Stevens Retirement Sets Stage for US Supreme Court Confirmation Battle

The U.S. Supreme Court is losing its most senior justice.  Justice John Paul Stevens has announced he will retire from the high court after the court's current term winds up in June.  Stevens' departure will give President Barack Obama the opportunity to appoint a second Supreme Court justice and sets the stage for what could be a partisan confirmation fight in the Senate.  

Word of Justice Stevens' retirement was not a surprise.  Stevens will turn 90 later this month and has given hints in recent months that he was considering retirement.

Just back from signing an arms treaty in Europe, President Obama offered praise for Justice Stevens at the White house.

"During that tenure, he has stood as an impartial guardian of the law," said President Obama. "He has worn the judicial robe with honor and humility."

The president said he had talked with Stevens by phone.  Mr. Obama also said he would nominate a replacement for Justice Stevens with similar qualities.

"An independent mind, a record of excellence and integrity, a fierce dedication to the rule of law and a keen understanding of how the law affects the daily lives of the American people," said Mr. Obama. "It will also be someone who, like Justice Stevens, knows that in a democracy, powerful interests must not be allowed to drown out the voices of ordinary citizens."

John Paul Stevens was appointed to the nine-member Supreme Court in 1975 by President Gerald Ford.  Stevens is one of the oldest and longest-serving justices in U.S. history.  He spoke about his longevity on the high court in an interview last October with the CSPAN public affairs network.

"No, I'm not out to break any records, I can assure you of that," said John Paul Stevens. "I just enjoy the work and each year that I have thought about it I have decided that I continue to enjoy it and continue to make a contribution."

Stevens began his court tenure as a moderate, but over time he became a leading liberal voice on the high court.  Stevens is considered the leader of the so-called four-member liberal bloc on the court, which often finds itself in the minority against the five-member conservative majority.

Stevens wrote the dissenting opinion in the 2000 Supreme Court case that settled the disputed election between Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore.  He also wrote the court opinion that gave terror detainees the right to go to U.S. courts to challenge their confinement at the U.S. Naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

On domestic issues, Stevens has been a reliable vote on the court in support of abortion rights, affirmative action programs for minorities and for maintaining the separation of government and religion in several cases.  

In his CSPAN interview last year, Stevens spoke about the factors in his life that shaped his judicial philosophy.

"A lot of it is just the result of your reading," he said. "A lot of it is your own experiences.  I know, for example, that my experiences during World War II shaped my thinking in some cases.  I was in the Navy.  And my experiences as a practicing lawyer have had an impact on the work I've done."

It is expected that President Obama will nominate a liberal-leaning justice to replace Justice Stevens.  That would maintain the ideological split on the high court that tends to break down five to four in favor of the court's conservative majority.

Whoever is nominated by the president faces hearings and a confirmation vote by the U.S. Senate.  That process can become politically divisive, especially in the wake of the polarizing debate over the president's health care reform law.

Tom Korologos is a veteran Republican lobbyist and former Senate aide who has helped several Supreme Court nominees win Senate confirmation.

"In the early days, nominees got approved the same day they got named," said Tom Korologos. "And it has now become very contentious.  It is a function of this town in which we live.  The town has gotten very partisan."

Democrats control 59 of the 100 Senate seats and confirmation of the next justice will require a simple majority vote.

A presidential nominee to replace Justice Stevens is expected sometime in the next several weeks.  The president said Friday he hopes the Senate can confirm his nominee in time for the new justice to take her or his place on the court in October when the next Supreme Court term begins.

Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell issued a statement saying Republicans will be looking to make sure the nominee follows the principle of judicial restraint in terms of an approach to deciding constitutional cases.

President Obama did appoint Justice Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court last year, the first Hispanic-American elevated to the high court.  Some women's groups are already urging the president to appoint another woman to the court this year to replace Stevens.  Justice Sotomayor and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg are the only two women on the court at present.  

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violencei
X
Lenny Ruvaga
November 27, 2014 7:05 PM
The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid