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The Judicial Bookshelf



Change at the Supreme Court may be most visible and frequent in the progression of statutory and constitutional questions the Justices resolve collectively, but it may also be equally highlighted by an individual Justice's decision. This reality became plainly apparent in a letter that Justice John Paul Stevens sent to the White House on April 9, 2010, just eleven days shy of his 90th birthday: “My dear Mr. President: Having concluded that it would be in the best interests 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 … effective the next day after the Court rises for the summer recess this year.”1 His statement was dated almost a year after Justice David Souter dispatched a similar notice to President Obama on May 1, 2009, announcing his intention to leave the Bench. Thus, for the fifth time in as many years, the machinery of executive nomination and senatorial advice and consent for the High Court churned again.