Stevens has apparently hired only one law clerk for next year's term, while he usually has hired all four by this point. Which means maybe this coming term is his last one! But he won't say, because you are always supposed to be totally caught off-guard when a Supreme Court Justice retires, it is tradition.
Stevens, as we mentioned, is part of the "liberal wing" of the Supreme Court, which means he was appointed by a Republican, is opposed to affirmative action, and does not think flag-burning is Constitutionally protected speech. (But the Rehnquist and Roberts eras have basically made him into a full-on commie because these people on the court now are straight-up nuts. Seriously, it is hard to make people become more liberal as they age, it is an impressive achievement by these "originalist" psychos.) And the "liberals" tend to not like to retire or die when Republicans are President, because Republicans replace them with folks who will spend their lifetime terms undoing everything the retiring or dying justice spent his own lifetime term trying to accomplish.
And a Stevens retirement would be great news for fans of months-long nightmarish political circuses! When David Souter retired, the political class put on an amusing dress rehearsal of the first year of the Obama presidency: Obama did something expected and fairly moderate, and the Republican opposition responded with hysteria and scorched earth campaigning against it. Sonia Sotomayor was the judicial equivalent of a health care proposal of modest insurance reforms and a limited public option. Also she was a racist radical and any health care reform is Nazi Socialism.
Can you imagine what would've happened if Obama had actually gone left with either of those picks? Oh, wait, the opposition would've been precisely the same. They reacted as if he had Gone Soviet, because it is simply about destroying his presidency and picking up 2010 seats, not about anything as unimportant and frivolous as Policy or Ideology.
So Obama will probably again pick someone qualified and moderate-to-soft liberal, and then we will again have literally months of formerly intelligent-seeming people saying "I am not comfortable voting for someone whom I know to be a big fan of genocide against White Males."
John Paul Stevens, if you just sit tight until February of 2011, you'll be the oldest sitting justice in the history of the court! Don't quit now, John Paul! You can do it!