Justice Stevens will retire in July prior to mid-term election

Justice John Paul Stevens, who came to embody the liberal voice on an increasingly conservative Supreme Court, announced Friday that he is retiring — giving President Barack Obama his second seat to fill on the nation’s high court.

Stevens’s announcement, coming less than two weeks before his 90th birthday, was not a surprise but marks the passing of an era on a court he joined in December 1975, an appointment of President Gerald Ford.

Stevens said Friday he will step down when the court finishes its work for the summer in late June or early July. He said he hopes his successor is confirmed “well in advance of the commencement of the court’s next term.”

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