"There's been talk, and it finally happened: Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, 89, announced today that he'll retire at the end of this term. As a law student, then a lawyer, I spent a lot of time with Stevens so I'm going to be suffering some serious separation anxiety. No, we never met. But I can't count the number of cases I read, quoted, cited, or memorized in which Justice Stevens' opinion was gold. Stevens, who sat on the bench of our nation's highest court for 35 years, and was appointed by Gerald Ford, took the lead in key cases that limited use of the death penalty (on the mentally retarded, for example) and expanded gay rights."