Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens announced his retirement from the high court today. Stevens sent a letter to President Obama today that read, “Having concluded that it would be in the best interests of the Court to have my successor appointed and confirmed well in advance of the commencement of the Court’s next term, I shall retire from active service,” reported the LA Times. Stevens’ retirement will lead to President Obama’s second appointment to the high court. His first Supreme Court appointee, Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, was sworn in on August 8, 2009. Potential nominees who were reportedly on the shortlist for the vacancy last year included Solicitor General Elena Kagan, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, Governor Jennifer Granholm of Michigan, US Appeals Court judge Diane Pamela Wood, and California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno. According to NPR, current leading candidates to fill Stevens’ seat include Kagan, Wood, and federal appellate judge Merrick Garland. According to his official biography, Stevens was nominated to the high court by Republican President Gerald Ford and was sworn in to the seat on December 19, 1975. With Stevens’ retirement, there will be six Catholics and two Jewish Supreme Court Justices.