Washington Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens says he “will surely” retire while President Barack Obama is still in office, giving the president the opportunity to maintain the high court’s ideological balance.
Stevens said in newspaper interviews on the Web on Saturday that he will decide soon on the timing of his retirement, whether it will be this year or next. Stevens, the leader of the court’s liberals, turns 90 this month and is the oldest justice.
His departure would give Obama his second nomination to the court, enabling him to ensure there would continue to be at least four liberal-leaning justices. The high court is often split 5 to 4 on major cases, with the vote of moderate Justice Anthony Kennedy often deciding which side prevails.
Stevens, who was named to the court by Republican President Gerald R. Ford in 1975, says he still loves the job, and says he continues to write the first draft of his own opinions.