Happy Birthday Justice Stevens, from Barack Obama

April 20, 2010

stevensU.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens celebrated a milestone birthday Tuesday when he turned 90, and received a letter of congratulations from President Barack Obama.

“For the last 35 years of your remarkable 90, the nation has benefited from the rigor, courage, and integrity that have marked your service on the Supreme Court,” Obama said in a letter to Stevens.

“Our system of justice and our nation are stronger and fairer because of your sterling contributions,” Obama wrote in the letter released by the Supreme Court.

Stevens is the second oldest justice in court history. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes retired in 1932 just two months before his 91st birthday.

In 1931, on the only other occasion that a sitting Supreme Court justice celebrated his 90th birthday, President Herbert   Hover wrote to Holmes his congratulations, Obama noted.

Stevens earlier this month announced he would retire from the court this summer, giving Obama the opportunity to name his replacement.

“Your retirement at the end of the court’s term will mark the completion of a judicial career, like that of Justice Holmes, that has left an undeniable imprint on our country’s jurisprudence,” Obama wrote.

Obama, who taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago before entering politics, concluded the letter by thanking Stevens for his distinguished service and wishing the justice and his wife Maryan much happiness.

Picture credit: Justice John Paul Stevens poses  for 2006 Court portrait. REUTERS/Larry Downing

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