Statement on the Death of Former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart
December 7, 1985
Nancy and I are deeply saddened to learn of the death this afternoon of our friend, former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart. Potter Stewart was born in 1915 and grew up in Cincinnati, OH, in an atmosphere steeped in the law; indeed, his father, a prominent lawyer and former Cincinnati mayor, once served as a member of the Ohio Supreme Court. Potter went east to study at the Hotchkiss School, Yale, and Yale Law School. But just a few years after receiving his law degree, he returned home to practice in Cincinnati.
In 1954 President Eisenhower appointed Potter to the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and at 39, Potter became the Nation's youngest Federal judge. Four years later, President Eisenhower raised Potter to the Supreme Court, making Potter, at 43, the second youngest justice to be appointed since the Civil War. On the Court, Potter soon became renowned for his measured and insightful opinions, his wit, and his lucid prose. Always, he strove for complete impartiality and complete fidelity to the Constitution. ``The mark of a good judge,'' Potter once said, ``is a judge whose opinion you can read and . . . have no idea if the judge was a man or woman, Republican or Democrat, a Christian or Jew . . . You just know he or she was a good judge.'' In 1981, after 23 years of untiring service, Potter stepped down from the Supreme Court in order to spend more time with his family. After his retirement, it was my honor to appoint Potter to the President's Commission on Organized Crime.
In a moment of reflection, Potter once remarked, ``I never thought of putting a label on myself, except trying to be a good lawyer.'' It is as a patriot and a good lawyer -- indeed, a brilliant man of the law -- that we remember Justice Potter Stewart this day. 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.