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Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens dies at 99

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 30: Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens testifies before the Senate Committee on Campaign Finance on Capitol Hill April 30, 2014 in Washington, DC. Stevens is testifying on a hearing entitled "Dollars and Sense: How Undisclosed Money and Post-McCutcheon Campaign Finance Will Affect 2014 and Beyond". (Photo by Allison Shelley/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) — John Paul Stevens, who served on the Supreme Court for nearly 35 years and became its leading liberal, has died. He was 99.

Stevens’ influence was felt on issues including abortion rights, protecting consumers and placing limits on the death penalty. He led the high court’s decision to allow terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay to plead for their freedom in U.S. courts.

As a federal appeals court judge in Chicago, Stevens was considered a moderate when Republican President Gerald Ford nominated him. On the Supreme Court he became known as an independent thinker and a voice for ordinary people against powerful interests.

He retired in June 2010 at age 90, the second oldest justice in the court’s history.

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