Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stephen Dies

Stevens-johnpaul-adv-obt-slide-B6DN-superJumbo-v3John Paul Stephens, the retired Supreme Court Justice that transitioned from a Republican anti-trust lawyer to the left's outspoken leader, has died at the age of 99. The Supreme Court announced that his death was caused by complications of a stroke that he had suffered the previous day.

Justice Stephens was 90 when he retired in 2010 after sitting on the bench for 35 years, becoming the second-oldest and the second-longest-serving justice ever to sit on the court.  He was born on April 20,He became the senior associate justice in his 19th year in 1994, meaning that he would write the majority opinion when the chief justice was in the dissent. He wrote the majority opinions Atkins v Virginia, Rasul v Bush, and Hamdan v Rumsfeld, and wrote a scathing dissenting opinion in Bush v Gore, the case that effectively decided the 2000 presidential election by stopping the Florida recount.

No one was more surprised of Justice Stephen's migration to the left than he was, and it was a gradual change, particularly on the death penalty and on questions of racially conscious government policies. He was known as bit of a skeptical loner than favored jaunty bow ties. 

See Linda Greenhouse, Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, Who Led Liberal Wing, Dies at 99, New York Times, July 16, 2019.


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