As Damon Root noted this morning, Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens announced his long-anticipated retirement today. The New York Times has a warm and fuzzy profile of the leftward-drifting Ford appointee. USA Today says Stevens' successor is likely to come from the same list as Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama's first Supreme Court pick, which included Solicitor General Elena Kagan, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, and 2nd Circuit Judge Diane Wood. Other possible contenders are D.C. Circuit Judge Merrick Garland, Attorney General Eric Holder, and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, an assistant attorney general in the Clinton administration.
Damon Root recently questioned Stevens' reputation as a foe of big business, noting his tolerance for eminent domain abuses that benefit well-connected developers and corporations at the expense of homeowners and shopkeepers. A few months ago I noted Stevens' support for upholding a ban on flag burning, which is of a piece with his support for restrictions on election-related speech and, despite his "liberal" image, puts him to the right of Antonin Scalia on First Amendment issues.