Supreme Court Justices are allowed to hire four law clerks to assist them each term.  Retired Justices are allowed only one.  The fact that Justice Stevens (the oldest Justice on the Court) has only hired one clerk thus far for the 2010-2011 term, leaves some people to question whether President Obama will get another chance to fill an empty seat on the highest court in the nation.

Although the hiring of the clerks is kept confidential until right before the beginning of the new term, it is common for the Justices to have confirmed hiring all of their clerks long in advance of the next term.  As of now, Justice Stevens has only confirmed one hiring for the 2010-11 session.  In the past this has been a sign of a pending retirement on the part of the Justice.  Justice Souter held off on hiring any clerks at all just prior to his announcement of retirement. 

Justice Stevens is the head of the liberal wing of the Court.  He has supported such causes as abortion rights, affirmative action and protections for accused criminals since his appointment to the Court in 1975. 
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