John Paul Stevens praised for legal prowess and humble approach

John Paul Stevens, whose 35 years on the U.S. Supreme Court made him the second-longest serving justice ever, died Tuesday at the age of 99 following a stroke he had suffered the day before.

John Paul Stevens praised for legal prowess and humble approach

While Stevens was appointed by a fellow Republican in 1975, he retired from the court in 2010 as the leader of the court’s liberal wing. On Tuesday, many praised Stevens’ legal prowess and service, contrasting the justice’s nonideological, soft-spoken approach with a court that has become increasingly polarized.

“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,” Chief Justice John Roberts said in a statement announcing Stevens’ death. “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.”

Many elected officials offered similar sentiments on Twitter.

Sen. Kamala Harris of California, who is seeking the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, said on Twitter, “Our nation was better for his service.”


“From breaking codes in World War II to breaking down barriers for civil rights,” she said, “Justice John Paul Stevens lived up to those words above the Court: Equal Justice Under Law.”

Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, called Stevens a “model jurist.”

“A champion for civil rights, equality, and accountability who devoted his life to the ideal of equal justice under law,” he said in a tweet. “Our judiciary today needs more like him.”

From across the aisle, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, called Stevens “brilliant” and full of “grace” and “class.”

“I can tell you firsthand there was no more dangerous or effective questioner than Justice Stevens,” Cruz said.


Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., said Stevens “honorably served our Nation for decades.”

Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., said Stevens lived a “life of public service.”

Neal Katyal, a former solicitor general, said he had argued more than two dozen cases before him. “He was unbelievable,” he said. “Brilliant. Polite. Committed to the truth.”

“Whether I was representing a corporation or a criminal defendant, I was always psyched Justice Stevens was there,” Katyal wrote in a tweet. “He was a model Justice.”

The U.S. Naval Institute credited Stevens’ military service.


“Serving as a naval intelligence officer during WWII, he was awarded a Bronze Star for his work with the codebreaking team credited for setting up the ambush that killed Admiral Yamamoto,” the naval institute said on Twitter.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


Unblock notifications in browser settings.

Eyewitness? Submit your stories now via social or: