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Justice John Paul Stevens, a Republican-appointed justice who emerged as a leader of the Supreme Court's liberal wing over his 34-year tenure, announced his retirement Friday.
Stevens sent a letter to President Obama on Friday, which read: "Having concluded that it would be in the best interests of the Court to have my successor appointed and confirmed well in advance of the commencement of the Court's next term, I shall retire from active service."
The announcement was not a surprise, but the timing was. Stevens, 89, was widely expected to wait until after the high court's oral arg