10 Things You Didn't Know About John Paul Stevens

10 interesting facts about the Supreme Court justice.

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1. John Paul Stevens was born in Chicago on April 20, 1920, the youngest of four sons, to Ernest and Elizabeth Stevens. His grandfather, J. W. Stevens, made his fortune as the founder of the Illinois Life Insurance Co. and with sons Ernest and Randolph went on to build the Stevens Hotel, now the Hilton Chicago, the world's largest hotel at the time.

2. As boys, Stevens and his brothers modeled for the bronze sculptures that sat in the Grand Stair Hall at the Stevens Hotel. Guests of the hotel included Amelia Earhart, Babe Ruth, and Charles Lindbergh, who presented 7-year-old John with a pet dove, "Lindy."

3. Stevens studied English at the University of Chicago, graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 1941. After his military stint, he studied law at Northwestern University, graduating in 1947 with the highest grades in the law school's history.

4. During World War II, Stevens served in the Navy as an intelligence officer working with a group assigned to break Japanese codes. Although he was stationed in Washington, D.C., and did not see action during the war, he was awarded the Bronze Star.

5. After law school, Stevens clerked for Supreme Court Justice Wiley Rutledge. Only five former Supreme Court clerks have returned as justices: Stevens, Byron White, William Rehnquist, Stephen Breyer, and current Chief Justice John Roberts.

6. Stevens was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1975 by President Gerald Ford, who in 2005 wrote of that appointment, "Normally, little or no consideration is given to the long-term effects of a president's Supreme Court nominees.... Let that not be the case with my presidency. For I am prepared to allow history's judgement of my term in office to rest (if necessary, exclusively) on my nomination thirty years ago of Justice John Paul Stevens to the U.S. Supreme Court." Stevens is the senior associate justice, second in authority only to the chief justice.

7. He has been married to his second wife, Maryan Mulholland Simon, since 1980. He is the father of four from his first marriage—three daughters and a deceased son.

8. From November to April, Stevens and his wife spend two weeks of every month in their condo in Florida. While there, he maintains a vigorous exercise schedule: daily ocean swims, tennis at least three times a week, and golf two to three times a week.

9. In 1988, Justice Stevens, along with fellow Supreme Court Justices Harry Blackmun and William Brennan, agreed to listen to oral arguments as to whether William Shakespeare actually wrote the plays and poems that bear his name. While the outcome of the debate seemed to favor Shakespeare supporters, Stevens offered a glimmer of hope for the opposition, saying, "I don't think the contrary view is wholly frivolous."

10. Stevens displays a penchant for silk bow ties and is an avid bridge player. He is a licensed pilot who used to commute between Florida and Washington, D.C., in his private plane.

Sources:
Washington Post
New York Times
Chicago Tribune
Associated Press
Chicago magazine
Current Biography Yearbook 1976