WASHINGTON (AP) -- Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens says he "will surely" retire while President Barack Obama is still in office.
That would give the president the opportunity to maintain the high court's ideological balance.
Stevens says in newspaper interviews on the Web today that he'll decide soon on the timing of his retirement, whether it will be this year or next. Stevens, the leader of the court's liberals, turns 90 this month and is the oldest justice. He tells The New York Times that he knows he must "fish or cut bait."
Stevens says he still loves the job, and says he continues to write the first draft of his own opinions.
His departure would give Obama his second nomination to the court, enabling him to ensure there would continue to be at least four liberal-leaning justices. The high court is often split 5 to 4 on major cases, with the vote of moderate Justice Anthony Kennedy often deciding which side prevails
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