Retired SCOTUS Justice John Paul Stevens dies aged 99
US Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens poses for photographers during a group photo session at the Supreme Court in Washington, DC, March 3, 2006. EPA-EFE/FILE/MATTHEW CAVANAUGH
The nine US Supreme Court Justices sit for an official group portrait at the Supreme Court Building in Washington, DC Dec. 3, 2003. Seated in front (L-R) are Associate Justices Antonin Scalia and John Paul Stevens, Chief Justice of the United States William H. Rehnquist, Standing (L-R) are Associate Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Hackett Souter EPA-EFE/FILE/JOE MARQUETTE
Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens photographed at the Supreme Court of the United States in Washington, DC Monday Oct. 31, 2005. EPA-EFE/FILE/MATTHEW CAVANAUGH
Washington DC, Jul 16 (efe-epa).- John Paul Stevens, who served as a justice on the Supreme Court of the United States for 35 years and became an influential leader of its liberal wing, died on Tuesday at the age of 99, the country's highest court said in a statement.
Stevens, who presided over several landmark cases including those pertaining to gay rights, abortion or the treatment of prisoners detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, passed away at a hospital in Fort Lauderdale (Florida) after complications from a stroke he suffered Monday.
President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, offered their "deepest condolences" to Stevens' family and friends in a statement by White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham.
"His work over the course of nearly 35 years on the Supreme Court will continue to shape the legal framework of our Nation for years to come," Grisham said in the statement.
The justice retired from the Supreme Court in 2010 at the age of 90. He was the second-longest serving justice in the court's history and only retired three-and-a-half decades after his appointment by President Gerald Ford (1974-77).
Stevens' career followed a rather unusual path: he made a name for himself as a conservative lawyer specializing in cases against corporate monopolies and caught the attention of the country's Republican leaders, who first appointed him to the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and later nominated him to the SCOTUS seat.
But after being appointed to the Supreme Court, Stevens started moving left owing to his rejection of rigid doctrines and an evolution of his political views. This change of heart was made evident when he declared his newfound opposition to capital punishment in 2008.
If Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a progressive icon on the Supreme Court, is known for her eye-catching necklaces that add a touch of glamor to her robes, Stevens was famous for sporting bow ties.
But he did not like being the center of attention, often allowing his colleagues to be in the limelight for important decisions such as the one in 2003, when he asked Judge Anthony Kennedy to author the majority opinion in the ruling that struck down a Texas law prohibiting same-sex sexual activity.
On the other hand, he was the author of a 2004 decision that granted federal courts jurisdiction over Guantanamo prisoners and, in 2006, repudiated the plans of the George W. Bush administration to try some of those prisoners in military commissions.
He also took the lead in the 2002 decision banning the execution of mentally-disabled inmates and in 2000 he was one of four members of the court that ruled against giving the presidency to Bush after a tight recount in Florida.
Stevens was succeeded by Justice Elena Kagan, appointed by President Barack Obama (2009-2017), but remained active in the country's political debate and just two months ago, he published his memoir, promoting it with veiled criticism of Trump.
Born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1920, Stevens was a World War II veteran and a lifelong fan of his city's baseball team, the Chicago Cubs.