The American Law Institute

The Hon. John Paul Stevens

A native of Chicago, Justice Stevens retired from the Supreme Court of the United States on June 29, 2010. Nominated to the Court by President Gerald Ford in 1975, upon Justice William O. Douglas's retirement, and confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 98 to 0, Justice Stevens went on to become the third-longest-serving Justice in the history of the Court. During the course of his legal career, he interacted with five different Chief Justices—Fred Vinson, Earl Warren, Warren Burger, William Rehnquist, and John Roberts—which interactions are the focus of his recent Supreme Court memoir, Five Chiefs (Little, Brown and Company 2011).

Before his appointment to the Supreme Court, Justice Stevens served on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit from 1970 to 1975. He was recommended for the Seventh Circuit post by Illinois Senator Charles Percy and appointed to it by President Richard Nixon after he served in 1969 as general counsel of a special commission to investigate allegations that two justices on the Illinois Supreme Court had improper contacts with a litigant in a pending case; his widely praised investigation led to the resignation of those justices. After serving as a law clerk in 1947-1948 to United States Supreme Court Justice Wiley Rutledge, Justice Stevens practiced law in Chicago until he joined the Seventh Circuit. From 1953 to 1955 he was a member of the Attorney General's National Committee to Study Antitrust Law. As a practitioner, he specialized in antitrust law and taught courses on that subject at both Northwestern University School of Law and the University of Chicago Law School.

Justice Stevens graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Chicago in 1941, where he studied English literature and served as editor of the Daily Maroon. From 1942 to 1945, he served in the Navy at Pearl Harbor as a watch  officer in charge of traffic analysts who gleaned intelligence from intercepted Japanese transmissions and was awarded a Bronze Star. Returning to Chicago, he enrolled in law school at Northwestern University where he became co-editor-in-chief of the law review and graduated first in his class after two years, with the highest grade-point average in the school's history.

An Institute member since 1971, Justice Stevens previously addressed the Institute's membership at the 1989 Opening Session at which then President Roswell B. Perkins said about him: "His intelligence, his imagination, and his judgment are legendary. He is clearly one of the Court's greatest assets and indeed one of the nation's great public servants." Justice Stevens is the recipient of many awards, including the 2011 Wickersham Award from the Friends of the Law Library of Congress for exceptional public service and dedication to the legal profession, the 2011 Champion of Justice Award from the Equal Justice Initiative for his tireless commitment to the constitutional rights of the country's most vulnerable citizens, and the 2010 NLADA Justice John Paul Stevens Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Legal Aid & Defender Association for his lifetime commitment to the fair administration of justice for all people.

Justice Stevens and his wife, Maryan, have eight grown children, 20 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren. Among his many interests, he has owned and flown his own single-engine plane.

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