Retired Justice John Paul Stevens: Tongue slip led to his retirement

By Kimberly Atkins

The Daily Record Newswire

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens announced his decision to step down from the nation's highest Court in April of 2010. But he made his decision months earlier: on Jan. 21, 2010, to be exact. That was the day Stevens announced from the bench his dissent in the controversial case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

As he read from his dissenting opinion, his speech faltered. The incident was noted by members of the Supreme Court press, including CBS News' Jan Crawford, who wrote: ''it was striking to see him appear to stumble over words as he read it, to mispronounce words like 'corruption' and 'allegation,' to seem to lose his place in his summary, to often hit the microphone with his hand or his papers.''

She added that it could have been ''just a bad day.'' But Stevens, speaking recently to The Atlantic, revealed that for him, it was much more. Despite his doctor's diagnosis that there was ''no problem,'' Stevens decided not to wait around until there was a problem.

''[T]hat was the day I decided to resign,'' Stevens said. ''I learned giving that talk that I had a speech problem.''

Published: Mon, May 16, 2011

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