Several Supreme Court justices, bow tie-clad family members, and dozens of former clerks assembled briefly in the Great Hall July 22 to honor longtime Justice John Paul Stevens, who passed away July 16 at the age of 99.
“For generations to come, people will celebrate his judicial virtues and aspire to those virtues as well,” Justice Elena Kagan said at the ceremony. Kagan, who replaced Stevens when he retired in 2010, called him one of her heroes.
One of the longest serving justices in Supreme Court history, Stevens began his service to the U.S. during World War II, earning a Bronze Star as part of a code-breaking team. He practiced law in Chicago before being confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and eventually to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1975.
If ever there were a time when a funeral should really be considered a celebration, this is it, Kagan said.
President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump paid their respects after the private ceremony. The president briefly shook hands with Chief Justice John Roberts before pausing in front of the late justice’s casket.
The casket was being watched over by former clerks of the long-serving justices, who will continue to do so on an alternating basis throughout the day.
Roberts and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Samuel Alito, Sonia Sotomayor, and retired Justice Anthony Kennedy attended the private ceremony. Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s wife, Ashley Kavanaugh, and Thurgood Marshall’s wife, Cecilia Marshall, were also in attendance.
Stevens will lie in repose in the Great Hall until 8 p.m. The public is invited to pay their respects.
He’ll be buried at a private ceremony at Arlington Cemetery on July 23.