ABC News' Ariane de Vogue reports:
“For the last 35 years of your remarkable 90,” the president wrote, “the Nation has benefited from the rigor, courage, and integrity that have marked your service on the Supreme Court of the United States.”
Obama thanked Justice Stevens for his service and said, “With the thoughtfulness and humility of your questions from the bench, and the independence and wisdom you have brought to the judgments the Court has rendered, you have stood guardian of the Constitution and the rule of law and helped move this Nation towards that more perfect Union.”
The letter to Stevens comes on the same day President Obama began informal conversations with potential nominees to replace Stevens on the high court, administration officials confirm. Sources stressed that the conversations were not formal interviews.
Last year, when the president prepared to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by Justice David Souter he held formal interviews with four candidates: Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Judge Diane Wood and Janet Napolitano.