AP NEWS
Related topics

Colleagues, Friends Mourn Death With AM-Stewart Obit

December 8, 1985

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Colleagues and friends of former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart mourned him Saturday as a distinguished jurist who led, in the words of President Reagan, a ″magnificent life.″

The president said he would remember Stewart as ″a patriot and a good lawyer - indeed, a brilliant man of the law.″

In a statement read by White House spokesman Dale Petroskey, the president said, ″Nancy and I join Potter’s family and his close friends, the Vice President and Mrs. Bush, in mourning Potter’s death and in cherishing the memory of his magnificent life.″

The Supreme Court justices who served with Stewart until his 1981 retirement praised him for his balance, patriotism and friendship, and Chief Justice Warren Burger called him a ″splendid jurist.″

Vice President George Bush, who learned of Stewart’s death as he watched the Army-Navy football game on the 50-yard line at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, scribbled his thoughts on a scrap of paper for a reporter who asked him about his longtime friend.

″Justice Stewart was truly an outstanding man,″ Bush wrote. ″The symbol of decency and honor, he served on our highest court with objectivity. He was a constitutional scholar who interpreted the Constitution without succumbing to the temptation to legislate from the bench.″

That sentiment was echoed by Stewart’s former law clerk, Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe, perhaps the nation’s foremost constitutional scholar.

Tribe said Stewart had ″an open mind and an elegant pen, and a deep commitment to constitutional principles .... a person of wit and courage and grace and great intellectual power.″

″His reaction to cases was highly contextual. The fact that it was not ideological or doctrinaire reflected not the absence of any clear constitutional compass,″ Tribe said, ″but the presence of an open and searching mind.″

Burger, in a statement released by the Supreme Court, said, ″For more than two decades Justice Stewart gave dedicated and distinguished service to our country; first on the Court of Appeals and then on the Supreme Court.

″His death removes a splendid jurist from the bench.″

Other justices issued statements reflecting their personal affection as well as professional admiration for their 70-year-old former colleague, who died Saturday in New Hampshire where he was hospitalized after a stroke he suffered last Monday.

Stewart, a millionaire several times over, was one of the wealthiest men to have served on the court, but was affable and unassuming.

Justice Byron R. White, saying he has missed having Stewart on the court since his retirement, commented, ″He was a great and extremely enjoyable colleague ... I am sure he has left his mark in the books.″

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who was named by Reagan to take Stewart’s seat on the court, said her predecessor ″devoted his life to public service and used his exceptional intellect for the enhancement of the quality of life for all citizens of this country.″

Justice William J. Brennan, the only justice to serve on the court all 23 years Stewart was there, called him ″a very great and distinguished justice″ and ″a very close personal friend.″

Justice John Paul Stevens lauded him as ″a great justice,″ saying, ″He has been a true source of inspriation for me and I shall miss him more than I can say.″

Justice Lewis F. Powell said, ″His highly constructive role in the day-to- day functioning of the court can only be known by those privileged to have served with him. He often led in working out a consensus. He had the rare ability to be at the same time a forceful advocate and a generous colleague.″

Justice Thurgood Marshall said he ″was truly great as a justice and as an American.″ Justice William H. Rehnquist called him ″a good friend and a first-rate judge.″ And Justice Harry A. Blackmun said Stewart ″added to the Supreme Court a basic centrist vision.″

Bush called the retired justice ″one of our closest personal friends,″ saying ″Barbara and I loved him very much. We will miss him.″

Stewart was also mourned by his friend, Judge Irving R. Kaufman, chairman of the president’s Commission on Organized Crime, a 19-member panel on which Stewart served until his death.

Kaufman, former chief judge of the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, said Stewart’s ″very presence added much stature and wisdom″ to the commission.

″His contribution was invaluable in helping us carry out the mandate from the president,″ he said. ″We shall miss him dearly.″

The commission’s public relations director, Arthur Brill, said Stewart regularly attended commission sessions, and when Brill saw him several weeks ago, ″He was fine.″

Brill called Stewart ″a tremendous person to talk to,″ adding, ″He was active and concerned.″

AP RADIO
Update hourly