Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images(FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla.) — Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has died at the age of 99, ABC News has confirmed.
“Retired Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, John Paul Stevens, died this evening at Holy Cross Hospital in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, of complications following a stroke he suffered on July 15. He passed away peacefully with his daughters by his side. He was 99 years old,” the Supreme Court confirmed.
Stevens was nominated to the high court by Republican President Gerald Ford in 1975 and retired in 2010 after serving more than 34 years on the court.
He is survived by his children, Elizabeth Jane Sesemann and Susan Roberta Mullen, nine grandchildren: Kathryn, Christine, Edward, Susan, Lauren, John, Madison, Hannah, Haley, and 13 great grandchildren. His first wife Elizabeth Jane; his second wife, Maryan Mulholland; his son, John Joseph; and his daughter, Kathryn; preceded him in death.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. released a statement through the Supreme Court following the death announcement.
“On behalf of the Court and retired Justices, I am saddened to report that our colleague Justice John Paul Stevens has passed away. A son of the Midwest heartland and a veteran of World War II, Justice Stevens devoted his long life to public service, including 35 years on the Supreme Court. He brought to our bench an inimitable blend of kindness, humility, wisdom, and independence. His unrelenting commitment to justice has left us a better nation. We extend our deepest condolences to his children Elizabeth and Susan, and to his extended family,” the statement read.
Despite being put on the bench by a Republican, Stevens became a hero to liberals voting to limit the use of the death penalty, uphold affirmative action, broaden the core holding of Roe v. Wade and argue for a strict separation of church and state.
But Stevens might be best known for his dissent in Bush v. Gore, the controversial Supreme Court decision that halted a recount of Florida ballots and cleared the way for George W. Bush to take the presidency.
“Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year’s presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear,” Stevens wrote at the time. “It is the nation’s confidence in the judge as the impartial guardian of the rule of law.”
Shortly after graduating from the University of Chicago in 1941, Stevens joined the Navy and served as a code-breaker in WWII, for which he was awarded a bronze star.
After the war, Stevens attended Northwestern Law School with funds from the G.I. Bill, after which he served as law clerk to Justice Wiley Rutledge of the Supreme Court during the 1947 term, the court said in a statement.
Stevens was admitted to practice law in Illinois in 1949.
From 1970-1975, Stevens served as a judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
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