John Paul Stevens, former Supreme Court Justice, dies at 99

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 21: Retired U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice John Paul Stevens addresses the American Law Institute's annual meeting at the Mayflower Hotel May 21, 2012 in Washington, DC. Nominated to the Supreme Court by President Gerald Ford, Stevens served on the court from 1975 to 2010 and was the oldest member of the court when he retired and is the third-longest serving justice in the court's history. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) — John Paul Stevens, who served on the Supreme Court for nearly 35 years and became its leading liberal, has died. He was 99.

Stevens’ influence was felt on issues including abortion rights, protecting consumers and placing limits on the death penalty. He led the high court’s decision to allow terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay to plead for their freedom in U.S. courts.

As a federal appeals court judge in Chicago, Stevens was considered a moderate when Republican President Gerald Ford nominated him. On the Supreme Court he became known as an independent thinker and a voice for ordinary people against powerful interests.

He retired in June 2010 at age 90, the second oldest justice in the court’s history.

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