Not even a week after promising that he would step down in the next couple of years, while President Obama can still appoint his successor, John Paul Stevens has decided to stop pussyfooting around and announce his retirement, effective at the end of the Supreme Court's current term, which wraps up at the end of June or early July. The timing of Stevens's departure means Obama will appoint a replacement before the midterm elections before the Democrats' 59-seat Senate majority is chipped away at or eviscerated by Republican electoral gains. But it also means that the confirmation fight will take place in the midst of a heated campaign environment. Will that persuade Obama to go with someone relatively Republican-friendly, to limit controversy? Or will he decide that controversy is inevitable (Sonia Sotomayor was no radical) and go with someone who will excite his base? Either way, this should make for some good summer drama.
Supreme Court Justice Stevens to Retire in Summer [AP via WSJ]