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In 1948, a young associate named John Paul Stevens joined the firm of Poppenhusen, Johnston, Thompson & Raymond. When he and two others left to start their own firm in 1952, name Partner Floyd Thompson reportedly remarked that the “Stevens guy will never amount to anything.” History would prove Thompson wrong. In 1970, President Nixon appointed Stevens as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Five years later, President Ford nominated him to replace retiring U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas. Confirmed 98-0, Stevens was sworn in as an associate justice on this day in 1975.
“I’m deeply moved,” Stevens said after being confirmed. “Like others who have traveled this road before me, I know that the inn that shelters for the night is not the journey’s end. A judge, like a traveler, must be ready for the morrow. I shall constantly strive to be ready for the morrow.”
When he retired in 2010, at age 90, Justice Stevens was the oldest justice then in service and the second-oldest serving justice in the Court’s history. He also retired as the third longest-serving justice in history, spending 34 years and six months on the Court.