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-- get a Fox News alert now Supreme Court justice John Paul Stevens set to step down from the highest court the country.
In mid summer perhaps early July James Rosen live of the White House he's been talking to people down there.
Our initial reaction early reaction games we know this chief Justice Roberts has reacted.
We got a copy of the letter that Justice Stevens sent to the White House making his decision official what are you learning there good morning.
Good morning -- bill of course President Obama is on his way back from Prague where he signed this nuclear treaty with the Russians so no direct reaction from him just yet.
We are expecting to see the president around little after 1 PM eastern time.
Arrive here at the White House we know is expected to make a statement about the mining tragedy we expect now of course to hear from him on this as well.
It was no secret that Justice Stevens was considering retiring he had only hired -- one law clerk to assist him in the following term.
Our former justices of the Supreme Court are entitled to one law clerk typically however.
If you're gonna serve and continue to serve on the High Court you have -- law clerk so that was an early hint that he was considering retiring.
This will mean that.
This will give the president an opportunity to nominate a successor to Justice Stevens and potentially get that successor confirmed.
Before the start of the next term in October that is widely resignation is -- as it is.
In the letter that you mention bill but justice Stephen says my dear Mr.
Having concluded that it would be in the best interest of the court to have my successor appointed and confirmed well in advance of the commencement of the court's next term.
I shall retire from regular active service as an associate justice.
Underneath cited the -- statutes the day after the court rises for the summer recess this year most respectfully yours.
John Paul Stevens this of course will impact the court and the direction of the corporate perhaps not as dramatically as the resignation of some other justices would.
But Justice Stevens is identified with the liberal wing of the Supreme Court something he has challenged in question -- characterizations of him.
In an interview that was published just a few days ago the Justice Stevens identified himself as a conservative on the court saying that.
He regarded as the duty of the justices to just interpret the long narrowly enough to make law.
But still most Supreme Court scholars and analysts regard Justice Stevens -- identified with the liberal wing of course he was appointed by president Ford.
A Republican president he is the longest serving member of the court.
He is just a couple of years shy of being the longest serving member of the court ever.
I believe he's the oldest member of the court at 89.
So in short a momentous occasion any time you have a Supreme Court justice retire.
This was being bandied about it's not a complete surprise.
It will occasion as these things always do.
A major battle for the president -- his white house on Capitol Hill when it comes time to nominate and confirm -- successor bill.
And -- -- gear up for the speculation about that successor and in the fight that will inevitably bring ensue after that James good information.
From the north -- thanks for that back to -- -- -- in a moment but first -- again.
-- go back to Washington our Chris Wallace joins us Chris.
I had that the president didn't have -- up on his plate now they will designate a team to choose the successor.
John Paul Stevens tells a little bit about you know what your reaction is to -- to this announcement.
Well as James said it was not a surprise at all in fact last Sunday.
Do it Justice Stevens who was not considered in any way shape or form a publicity hound.
Gave separate interviews for the Washington Post and the New York Times in which he kind of openly talked about the process by which he was gonna decide whether or not -- -- The very fact that he that he opened himself up to that made almost everybody in Washington figured he was about to step down and wanted to -- -- context for it.
-- we don't know what the process is going to be by which the president will decide this that but what people are are kind of clinging to it was the fact that.
There was a process when he chose Sonia Sotomayor.
Last year and -- some of the top names on the left who didn't make it last time.
Might make it this time there are three front runners that are widely considered.
Here in Washington one of them is a -- Kagan who is the solicitor general with the former.
Dean of Harvard Law School also judge Diane what she's a member of the circuit court of appeal -- in Chicago.
And Merrick Garland a man who is on the Circuit Court of Appeals here in Washington.
But doesn't necessarily mean just because they were the front runner is in the in the selection process last time.
That they're gonna rise to the top again this time and and the president has has said repeatedly.
That he would like to think of somebody who isn't necessarily.
A judge somebody with the real world experience possibly a politician.
One name that has been mentioned along those lines is pleased secretary of Homeland Security the former governor of Arizona -- -- -- -- she was seriously considered last time and I suspect her name will be at least mentioned by all the thoughts as a possible of this -- as well.
If it's interesting and -- discussions the President Obama has had about the way he used the court.
He and suggested that you know he likes to have someone who brings their life experiences to bear.
On the way that they interpret and look at the constitution and asked she's -- -- you just mentioned the three names that.
You -- have popped up over time and perhaps -- volatile as well.
Absolutely will once again you know get a clear picture of how President Obama wants to leave his presidential mark under escort by whomever he too is -- You know it is another interesting thing here and and that's politics and obviously the choice that they he has Supreme Court nominee is a very political decision.
-- an end to a certain to gray you'll got a sense of what the president wants to do it in in.
The latter part of this year as he heads towards the November mid term.
A lot of liberals are -- because although he was chosen as as James pointed out.
By Gerald Ford.
John Paul Stevens ended up being perhaps the leader of the liberal wing of the court and and and the person who spoke most a glass of late for them and was the best that at reaching out to moderates and conservatives on the other side of the -- At and trying to make deals.
And so there are some liberals who say you ought to go for -- and more liberal person and take on that fight.
Particularly since he still has 59 votes in the Senate which he may well not happen after November on the other hand there are other people who were suggesting it out.
Why not do a more of a move like Sonia Sotomayor a little bit more -- the mainstream not as much of a fight you got a lot of big issues and you don't wanna create another tough vote.
For Democrats heading into the November election -- it's -- to be very thing to see whether he moves a little bit to the left in his selection of -- pick somebody.
That might not pick up as much of a fight in the -- -- in in the -- Yeah and that they give us some indication about how he sees other things -- his agenda.
You know whether or not he wants to focus his -- and focus it knows his.
Sort of capital.
On somebody that might be problematic and whether or not he you know how are to the left I guess he would be willing to go.
It in this next in his decision -- acts.
But you know it one of the keys until all this Martha is that that it is so political John Paul Stevens who as I say was appointed by Republican Jerry Ford.
But certainly -- came a liberal justice.
Had made it clear and the last.
The year -- last few months anyway.
That he wanted to retire while Barack Obama was president why because he want to -- a liberal justice to replace him.
And so clearly it -- some of the older members of the court like -- like Ruth Bader Ginsburg was appointed by Bill Clinton.
May decide to step down while Barack Obama as president -- only be assured of that.
You know so that they can get a liberal member of the court.
As James pointed out this will not swing the balance of the court this would be a liberal replacing a liberal -- And therefore might not be quite as big -- fight on it in the Senate but.
Very important to one of the liberal members of the court the liberal president.
Is the one who names their successor.
Yeah and the question as you pointed out Chris will be just how liberal that person is and that the -- and the discussion that once you.
As we follow all this Chris thank you so much but that you were able to separate there's a picnic -- -- He added the ability word press by the way.
Hang on one -- -- turns ninety on April 20 is the son and three daughters John Paul Stevens -- In 1975.
-- he was nominated by president Ford he was confirmed by the Senate.
In a vote of 98 to nothing.
You now have.
59 Democrats in the Senate.
Republicans have not ruled that an attempt to delay his confirmation -- they filibuster could they filibustered.
Given the mood in Washington coming off the health care this is a fight they -- to pick Chris or can we say that now.
Well -- -- this thing because given the fact that there was so much speculation about this I asked Jon -- the number two Republican in the Senate last Sunday on FOX News Sunday.
About the possibility of filibuster and he was refused to rule it -- -- -- it really depends on how.
Radical how ideological choice the president makes the point being obviously it's a more liberal -- left wing place.
But they reserve the right to -- about drive pointed out the fact that Republicans.
Have been very much against democratic filibusters of judicial nominees.
Back in 2005 when -- when they held the government Republicans held the majority and Democrats were filibustering.
And he had spoken out very much against that said that the minority shouldn't dictate -- to the majority he said well I was right then but the fact is they'd never Democrats did -- we reserve the right to do what now so.
I think the possibility of a filibuster I don't think it's particularly likely but I think it's still out there and it very much depends on how ideological choice President Obama.
I it is shaping have been quite a summer Chris stand by there in Washington -- -- get back to the White House right now when she James Rosen and poking around and listen to this conversation -- your view one that given the the atmosphere in Washington today as what basin where you're talking about their resources there.
Well it's highly polarized as we all know.
Confirmation battles are unpredictable events things develop things come out about the background of individuals that we might not have known when they were first nominated.
-- and so of course anything can happen.
In the case of the last nominee to the courts judge Sonia Sotomayor now just -- Sotomayor.
I think everyone knew at the outset that she was probably going to be confirmed and only minimal sort of symbolic resistance was put up to her com.
To her confirmation.
Want -- fall on one thing that you mentioned bill.
-- you mentioned that Justice Stevens was confirmed by a vote of 98 to nothing back in 1975 another salient point about that event.
Was at the word abortion did not appear.
In the transcript at all of those hearings.
A sign of how things have -- and held we have different issues on the table that matter primarily to Americans now that we did in 1975.
Just want to remind you what chief Justice Roberts has said on this occasion saying today.
Of that Justice Stevens enriched the lives of everyone at the court -- his intellect independents and warm grace.
We've all been blessed to have John as our colleague and his wife -- is our friend.
Of course those are the kinds of things we expect justices to say about one another it is really a very tight fraternity.
And then now of course with the addition of women a sorority of sorts -- on the High Court.
These are lawyers who know each other for very long time before they ascend to this the nation's highest court.
Also just a reminder.
We didn't hear about abortion once during the Senate confirmation hearings for Justice Stevens of course it'll be a very different issue this time around.
A very different affair.
A regardless of who the president nominates advisers to President Obama by the way have said recently.
When this first became an issue that Justice Stevens was considering retirement.
That they expect to see the same faces in the same names bandied about.
On the short list of potential nominees as when Judge Sotomayor was nominated.
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