Justice John Paul Stevens served on the Supreme Court from 1975 to 2010. He began his career as a non-partisan moderate, but from the 1990s and onwards, he led the court's liberal block.
Retired Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court John Paul Stevens passed away on Tuesday at the age of 99. He served on the court for nearly 35 years and retired in 2010.
A Supreme Court statement confirmed Stevens' passing, adding that the former justice had died of complications from a stroke he suffered on Monday in Fort Lauderdale
Originally from Chicago, Stevens was appointed by Republican President Gerald Ford in 1975 and at the outset of his tenure, he built his reputation as a non-partisan, highly independent jurist.
But his views evolved as the court moved to the right in the early 1990s under Chief Justice William Rehnquist, and he came to lead its liberal wing.
Stevens came to embrace key liberal positions such as abortion and gay rights, gun restrictions, limits on government aid for religion and the legalization of marijuana.
He also supported protecting the rights of crime suspects and illegal immigrants facing deportation.
Looking back at his career, Stevens said his only regret was his support for reinstating the death penalty in 1976. In 2008, he publicly declared his opposition to capital punishment.
Nonetheless, Stevens saw himself in a different light. "I don't think of myself as a liberal at all," Stevens told The New York Times in 2007. "I think as part of my general politics, I'm pretty darn conservative."
After announcing his retirement in 2010, Stevens' vacancy in the court was filled by President Barack Obama. The former president nominated Elena Kagan, who currently serves on the court and is considered to be a liberal justice.
"He brought to our bench an inimitable blend of kindness, humility, wisdom, and independence. His unrelenting commitment to justice has left us a better nation," Chief Justice John Roberts said in the court's statement.
Stevens is survived by two daughters, nine grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. His first and second wives, as well as two of his children, had passed before him.
jcg/bw (Reuters, AP)