Justice John Paul Stevens, who was nominated to the Supreme Court by Republican President Gerald Ford in 1975 in the wake of Watergate and stepped down almost 35 years later as a leader for the liberal side of the bench, has died. He was 99.
Stevens, known as a soft spoken midwesterner with a searing intellect, died on Tuesday, according to a statement from the Supreme Court.
Stevens was born in the South Side of Chicago in 1920 and graduated from the University of Chicago in 1941, and Northwestern Law School in 1947. In interviews, he shied away from questions concerning his legacy and always maintained that his ideology hadn’t shifted during his years on the court.
On the bench, always with his trademark bow tie peeking over his judicial robes, Stevens would often wait until the latter half of an argument, lean forward with a polite, “May I ask” and then launch a razor sharp question cutting to the core of an advocate’s case.
He retired in 2010 at 90 years old, clearing the way for President Barack Obama to nominate Justice Elena Kagan, then 50, to take his place.