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Published Jun. 29, 2010

New York Times

WASHINGTON - The announcements of the last decisions of the Supreme Court term on Monday were bracketed by farewells.

At the opening of the session, Chief Justice John G. Roberts read a statement about the death on Sunday of Martin D. Ginsburg, 78, the husband of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Martin Ginsburg, the chief justice noted, was an accomplished lawyer and law professor known for his sharp wit and gourmet cooking.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was present and announced one of the day's decisions. As the chief justice read his statement, which mentioned that the Ginsburgs had met at Cornell University on a blind date in 1951, Justice Antonin Scalia, a close friend of the couple, seemed to wipe away a tear.

At the close of the session, the chief justice said goodbye to Justice John Paul Stevens, who is retiring at the age of 90 after almost 35 years on the court. Many in the courtroom wore bow ties, his sartorial signature, in his honor.

"You have alloyed genuine collegiality with independent judgment," Roberts said, reading from a letter signed "affectionately" by all the current justices and the two retired ones. The letter calculated that Stevens had served on the court "for nearly one sixth of its existence."

"Justice Stevens," the chief justice added from the bench, "we will allow you time for rebuttal."

In reading his own letter, Stevens seemed to refer to Ruth Bader Ginsburg's recent loss in thanking his colleagues "and each of your spouses - present and departed - for your warm and enduring friendship."

He recalled working with not only his eight current colleagues but also with 10 of their predecessors.

"If I have overstayed my welcome," he said, "it is because this is such a unique and wonderful job."

Stevens bows out

The court said goodbye to Justice John Paul Stevens, 90, who is retiring. Many in the courtroom wore bow ties, his sartorial signature, in his honor.