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Conservative, Liberal Justices Unite To Praise John Paul Stevens

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Supreme Court members were uniformly generous in honoring the late Justice John Paul Stevens Wednesday, commending his humility and affable demeanor.

The justices each released short statements honoring Stevens Wednesday, the normal practice when a current or former member of the court dies.

“In a capital city with no shortage of self-promoters, Justice Stevens set a different tone,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said. “Quick as his bright mind was, Justice Stevens remained a genuinely gentle and modest man. No jurist with whom I have served was more dedicated to the judicial craft, more open to what he called ‘learning on the job,’ more sensitive to the wellbeing of the community law exists (or should exist) to serve.”

Justice Brett Kavanaugh similarly praised Stevens’s “quiet dignity” and said civility was his most distinctive quality.

Others said the justice was especially genial — Justice Samuel Alito and Sonia Sotomayor separately noted that Stevens went to great lengths to make them feel welcome and accommodated during their first days on the court.

“We used to say that we should not visit each other’s chambers too often because once we started to talk it was hard to stop,” retired Justice Anthony Kennedy said.

President Donald Trump issued a proclamation Wednesday providing that flags should be flown at half-staff on the day Stevens is interred as Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. The former justice’s funeral arrangements are not yet public.

Stevens died Tuesday night in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, of complications arising from a stroke. At 99, he was the longest-lived justice in U.S. history, and his 34-year tenure on the Supreme Court was the third longest of any member of the court.

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Kevin Daley

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