NEW YORK Ã¢â‚¬â€ The leader of the liberal wing of the US Supreme Court, John Paul Stevens, again has said he may soon bow out, which would open a door to President Barack Obama’s second pick to the high court.
“I do have to fish or cut bait, just for my own personal peace of mind and also in fairness to the process,” Stevens said in an interview with The New York Times online Saturday. “The president and the Senate need plenty of time to fill a vacancy.”
Stevens, set to turn 90 this month, told the Times he did not like to give interviews “because it saves an awful lot of time if you don?t.”
While speculation has been mounting for months that this might be his last session, Stevens told the Times he had not yet made up his mind.
“But the White House is bracing for a summertime confirmation battle, the second of the Obama presidency” the Times noted, after the nomination and confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor, now the first Hispanic US high court justice.
Though beloved by progressives, Stevens, appointed by former president Gerald Ford (1974-1977), maintained in an interview Friday that his judicial philosophy was conservative.
“What really for me marks a conservative judge is one who doesn?t decide more than he has to in order to do his own job,” Stevens said. “Our job is to decide cases and resolve controversies. It?s not to write broad rules that may answer society?s questions at large.”
Stevens recently confirmed in an interview with the New Yorker that he hired a lone clerk for the 2010-2011 court session, suggesting he might be planning to retire.
Regarding the US president, who happens to be a former law professor, Stevens told that magazine: “I have a great admiration for him, and certainly think he’s capable of picking successfully, you know, doing a good job of filling vacancies.”
Among names mentioned as a possible successor if Stevens retires soon is Elena Kagan, 50, formerly at Harvard Law, where Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama studied law.