Joe Biden

Statement by the Vice President on the Retirement of Justice John Paul Stevens

April 09, 2010

In 1975, as a first-term Senator from Delaware, I had the privilege of voting for the first time to confirm a nominee to serve on the United States Supreme Court. Last year, I was honored when that nominee — Justice John Paul Stevens — administered the oath of office as I was sworn in to serve as Vice President of the United States. Today, I called Justice Stevens to thank him for his service to our country, after he announced his retirement. Throughout this span of years, all Americans have benefitted from Justice Stevens's commitment to our core Constitutional values and to the fair and restrained application of the law to all parties before the Court. His legacy as a Justice will endure, beyond the confines of a particular judicial ideology, because it reflects the profound humanity he brought to bear to the task of judging.

Justice Stevens's service to our Nation began well before his elevation to our highest Court. A member of the Greatest Generation, the last still serving on the Court, he enlisted to serve our country the day before the Pearl Harbor attack. He returned after the war to attend law school, clerk on the Supreme Court, and become an expert in antitrust law in private practice, before being appointed a judge. He accumulated wisdom from this rich life experience and approached judging as much more than an academic exercise. He saw how the law shapes the lives of ordinary people in real and practical ways, and he talked about and explained the law in ways that made sense to all Americans.

Justice Stevens is famous for his work ethic — both on the Supreme Court and the tennis court — even as he turns 90 later this month. His service to our Nation has been long, distinguished, and an inspiration to generations of Americans, and for that we are deeply grateful.

Joseph R. Biden, Statement by the Vice President on the Retirement of Justice John Paul Stevens Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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