New story in Politics from Time: ‘I Believe in My Work.’ How Rep. Ilhan Omar Rose From Refugee to Trump’s Top Target

Dahabo Mohamed, a freshman at Richfield High near Minneapolis, is patiently waiting in the school’s auditorium to meet her Congresswoman, Ilhan Omar. Omar has just finished giving remarks to the student body on a Tuesday morning in late May, and the line of students ahead of Mohamed means she will lose part of her free lunch period, but she doesn’t care. It is rare for her to see someone in a position of power who looks like she does—a Muslim woman in traditional garb—so the free time can wait. “For people like me who wear a hijab, to see her doing what she’s doing is inspiring,” she says.

Omar’s decisive victory last fall was a groundbreaking moment for American Muslims. The 36-year-old former refugee is the first Somali American to serve in Congress. She and her colleague Rashida Tlaib are the first two Muslim-American women to serve in Congress. Congress had to change its rules to allow her to wear her hijab on the floor. For many American Muslims, her election was a sign they were inching toward full acceptance in American society. But since she arrived in Washington, Omar has been embroiled in controversy. Members of her own party, including top leadership, publicly rebuked her after she made comments many deemed anti-Semitic, and she introduced a resolution Wednesday that has potential to re-ignite that debate. Minnesota regulators alleged in June that, as a candidate for the state legislature, she misspent over $3,000 that she is now responsible for reimbursing. President Donald Trump distorted her comments about 9/11 in a Twitter video insinuating that she supported terrorists. Her office says she has received hundreds of death threats.

Then a dramatic series of confrontations propelled her once more, even further toward center stage in national politics. First, Omar and three other women of color from Congress’s freshman class clashed with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic Party leaders over a funding bill for aid to address the crisis at the southern border, laying bare the deep division between the old and new guard in the House. Then Trump, beset by multiple failed attempts to address the border crisis himself, launched a racist Twitter attack against these four freshmen, saying that if they didn’t want to be in America, they should “go back.” This rhetoric persisted throughout the week, with Trump singling out Omar at his rally in North Carolina, and the crowd responding with chants of “send her back.”

Trump’s comments caused outrage and triggered a temporary unification of House Democrats, who passed a resolution on July 16, largely along partisan lines, condemning him for his comments. But they highlight how Omar has become an object of intense division. Her opponents see a left-wing ideologue who criticizes the country that gave her shelter: she came to the U.S. as a refugee at age 12 and is the only one of the so-called Squad of four freshmen who was actually born abroad. Her defenders say she is standing up for core American values in the face of rising racism. For her part, Omar accepts that she is a target for the President and his allies. “The right wing, Trump, the Republicans, white supremacists [launch] attacks on immigrants, refugees, black people, women, Muslims,” she tells TIME. With her, she says, “They have all of that in one box.”

Representative Ilhan Omar
Gabriella Demczuk for TIMEOmar speaks at a press conference following Trump’s racist Twitter attack on July 15, 2019.

But for all the attention, little is known about Omar’s background, political ascent and work on Capitol Hill. Interviews with the Congresswoman and over a dozen of her associates and constituents reveal a complex portrait. She is neither the radical bogeywoman portrayed by the President, nor is she the savior some on the left want her to be. At her core, she is an ambitious freshman member of Congress with a unique history that simultaneously propels her forward and pushes her back, a subject of interpretation and fascination by all sides. Her story may end up saying more about the state of politics in America than that of virtually any of her colleagues.

Understanding Omar’s place in American politics requires understanding the Minneapolis Somali-American community she grew up in and represents. Over 50,000 Somali Americans live in Minnesota, the largest population in the U.S., many in the densely populated neighborhood of Cedar-Riverside. Often called Little Mogadishu, after Somalia’s capital, the enclave is to Somali Americans what New York’s Lower East Side was to Jews at the turn of the 20th century, or what Lowell, Mass., was to the Irish after the potato famine. Signs for halal meat and imported African wares are everywhere, in both Somali and English, and women clad in hijabs are the norm.

It was in this neighborhood that Omar and her family settled over 20 years ago after fleeing Somalia’s long-running civil war between al-Qaeda-allied Muslim fundamentalists and a succession of weak governments and brutal warlords. As a small child at a sprawling refugee camp near Mombasa, Kenya, Omar listened as her father and grandfather talked glowingly about the land in which they hoped to live. “The America that my dad and grandfather were excited about was an America that had prosperity for all, an America that had a fair and just system,” she says.

Omar says that when she arrived in 1995 after America offered the family resettlement, she found the tales of equality and opportunity to be something of a fantasy. She had no idea her skin color and religion would make her a minority, and in Virginia, where the family stayed temporarily on their way north, she told the New York Times she was the subject of taunts from classmates. Minnesota, reputed at the time for its educational opportunities, was better, she says. Her high school administrators encouraged those from different ethnic backgrounds to find common ground, and Omar remains grateful. “The culture here is that you care for one another,” she says. “And for Somalis, who have a communal culture, it is easy to get connected to a place that strives to create community.”

Representative Ilhan Omar
Annick Sjobakken for TIMEOmar meets with residents of her district at a community event in Minneapolis, May 28, 2019.

Omar’s family, she says, was among the first to arrive in Cedar-Riverside. She recalled she was one of a handful of Somali Americans when she began high school, but says that number had climbed to over a hundred by the time she graduated. But she has seen the community struggle over time. Violent crimes in Cedar-Riverside rose by more than half in between 2010 and 2017, and the area has seen significant gang conflict. More than 250 Americans had left to join ISIS or other militant groups, according to a 2015 congressional report. Of the cases reviewed, over a quarter were from Minnesota, and many of them were Somalis. Despite electing Minneapolis’ first Somali-American city council member in 2013, the community often still feels like they have yet to be fully accepted.

Trump’s election in 2016 highlighted these woes, not least because he called out Minnesota on the eve of his victory. “You have seen firsthand the problems caused with faulty refugee vetting, with large numbers of Somali refugees coming into your state,” he told a cheering crowd at an airport hangar in Minneapolis. Two days later, Omar would make history by ascending to the Minnesota state legislature to represent the very community he was denigrating. And whether she knew it or not, that contrast would end up consuming her political trajectory.

Omar didn’t run for office to spotlight the plight of the Somali community. Her political base was actually young progressive activists, many of whom she had worked with as a community educator at the University of Minnesota. She decided to run against 44-year incumbent Phyllis Kahn after she met with the elderly mother of her future campaign chair, who felt she was not being heard. Omar saw the political opportunity to make inroads with this demographic, and seized it. She championed a progressive platform during both of her campaigns, advocating for the cancellation of student debt, expanded health care and stronger environmental regulation.

Whatever her political agenda, Trump’s attacks and her groundbreaking candidacy mean her background dominates her public image. She knows exactly what she represents to girls like Mohamed, the high school freshman who waited in line to meet her, and some in the community not only view her presence in Washington as an inspiration but also see her as their champion in D.C. “We felt very relieved once she was elected,” says Abdirahman Kahin, a family friend. “If anything happened to us she would be the voice and bring people together on our defense.”

Representative Ilhan Omar
Gabriella Demczuk for TIME Omar on Capitol Hill with a staffer (center) and her daughter, Isra Hirsi (right), on July 15, 2019.

Omar started out strong on Capitol Hill. She landed a seat on the Foreign Affairs Committee, joined the Congressional Black Caucus, became whip for the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and has used social media and liberal policies to gain an unusually high profile. Within the progressive faction of Congress, she is known as a workhorse who deals with less sexy pieces of legislation like rules packages and budget caps. She has co-sponsored over 200 bills and took the lead on a proposal with Senator Bernie Sanders and Rep. Pramila Jayapal to eliminate $1.6 trillion in student debt. She’s also gained a reputation for fearlessness in meetings on issues close to her heart, like immigration from Africa and female empowerment.

But her repudiation of fellow Democrats who don’t sign up for progressive policies has irked party leaders and more moderate caucus members who argue that she doesn’t represent the majority views of the caucus and is endangering the party’s majority. Few of the bills she has sponsored or co-sponsored have passed the House of Representatives, and they have been overshadowed by her rhetoric.

In a Twitter exchange in February, Omar said of congressional support for Israel, “It’s all about the Benjamins baby.” Omar’s tweet has since been deleted. But Pelosi and others condemned the comments, and Omar quickly apologized. But a month later, she told a group at a Washington bookstore, “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is O.K. for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.” Many of her Jewish colleagues and constituents thought she was insinuating they harbored dual loyalty to the U.S. and Israel, another anti-Semitic trope. Republicans seized the opportunity to paint the entire party as anti-Semitic and hostage to Omar’s views.

Back in Minneapolis’ St. Louis Park, which has a large Jewish population, Omar’s comments shocked some. “They were really hurt and disappointed and scared,” recalls Rabbi Alexander Davis, a senior rabbi at Temple Beth El in the neighborhood. Others feel Omar is being singled out for who she is and what she looks like. “Some of my progressive allies who are quick to criticize the Congresswoman and other folks for invoking anti-Semitic tropes might need to examine where the strength of that response is coming from,” says Beth Gendler, a Jewish constituent from the neighborhood.

Omar harbors similar beliefs, although she is apparently learning the Washington skill of conveying them delicately. When we discuss these incidents, nearly five months removed and thousands of miles from Capitol Hill, in her district office in downtown Minneapolis, she attributes the criticism to “preconceived notions.” People who are not from her background “have said a lot worse things,” she says. But, she quickly adds, “that is a very human thing and it’s one that we always have to be conscious about.” The tension embedded in such statements may come to define Omar’s career. Critics see in them a lack of responsibility for her own words, or even a hostility to the country that gave her shelter.

For her part, Omar seems content to embrace her role as provocateur, lightning rod and activist. “I believe in my work,” she says, and “the way I show up in society should define who I am.”

Those sentiments were evident on Wednesday when, in the midst of attacks from the President, she and her colleagues, Reps. John Lewis and Tlaib, introduced a resolution that would only give him additional fodder. The resolution supports the constitutional right of Americans to participate in boycotts “in pursuit of civil and human rights.” Although no organizations were mentioned by name, some took it as a firm show of support for the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement, which urges companies to forgo business deals with Israel as a form of pressure to provide equal rights to Palestinians. “The timing of this is terrible and makes it very hard to support her,” Avi Olitzky, another Rabbi at Beth-El in St. Louis Park, told TIME.

But these acts don’t change the fact that, for many in the Somali community in Minneapolis, she represents the future. Near Mohamed in line to meet Omar at the high school auditorium, another young woman of color jumps into the conversation as she waits to meet the woman who has broken barriers to rise in America. “Seeing that she can do it, it means I also can do it,” the girl says.

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New story in Politics from Time: After President Trump’s Racist Tweets, People Have Been Searching for the Definition of ‘Racism’

As backlash and debate over a series of racist tweets posted by President Donald Trump continues, Merriam-Webster dictionary announced a big uptick in Americans searching for the definition of “racism.”

“Tonight’s top searches, in order: racism, socialism, fascism, concentration camp, xenophobia, bigot,” Merriam-Webster tweeted on Wednesday night.

Among Merriam-Webster’s definitions for “racism” are: “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race,” “a political or social system founded on racism” and “racial prejudice and discrimination.”

The post came days after Trump apparently told four Democratic Congresswomen of color—Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib—to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” All four women are U.S. citizens and all but Omar, who was born in Somalia, were born in the United States.

Democrats quickly declared the tweets racist and voted to condemn them, but the President pushed back on that accusation. On Monday, he declared that the tweets were “NOT Racist,” and that he doesn’t “have a Racist bone in my body!”

The President’s comments, as well as hesitance by many Republican lawmakers and Trump supporters to call the tweets racist, sparked debate about the word’s actual definition—a debate that, apparently, drove many people to look it up for themselves, along with words like “fascism,” “xenophobia” and “bigot.”

“Socialism” has also come up in the controversy, with Trump repeatedly calling the lawmakers socialist.

New story in Politics from Time: Crowd Chants ‘Send Her Back!’ at President Trump’s Combative North Carolina Rally

(GREENVILLE, N.C.) — Going after four Democratic congresswomen one by one, a combative President Donald Trump turned his campaign rally Wednesday into an extended dissection of the liberal views of the women of color, deriding them for what he painted as extreme positions and suggesting they just get out.

“Tonight I have a suggestion for the hate-filled extremists who are constantly trying to tear our country down,” Trump told the crowd in North Carolina, a swing state he won in 2016 and wants to claim again in 2020. “They never have anything good to say. That’s why I say, ‘Hey if you don’t like it, let ’em leave, let ’em leave.’”

Eager to rile up his base with the some of the same kind of rhetoric he targeted at minorities and women in 2016, Trump declared, “I think in some cases they hate our country.”

Trump’s jabs were aimed at the self-described “squad” of four freshmen Democrats who have garnered attention since their arrival in January for their outspoken liberal views and distaste for Trump: Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. All were born in the U.S. except for Omar, who came to the U.S. as a child after fleeing Somalia with her family.

Taking the legislators on one at a time, Trump ticked through a laundry list of what he deemed offensive comments by each woman, mangling and misconstruing many facts along the way.

Omar came under the harshest criticism as Trump played to voters’ grievances, drawing a chant from the crowd of “Send her back! Send her back!”

Trump set off a firestorm Sunday when he tweeted that the four should “go back” to their home countries — though three were born in the United States. Trump has accused them of “spewing some of the most vile, hateful and disgusting things ever said by a politician.”

Before he left Washington, Trump said he has no regrets about his ongoing spat with the four. Trump told reporters he thinks he’s “winning the political argument” and “winning it by a lot.”

“If people want to leave our country, they can. If they don’t want to love our country, if they don’t want to fight for our country, they can,” Trump said. “I’ll never change on that.”

Trump’s harsh denunciations were another sign of his willingness to exploit the nation’s racial divisions heading into the 2020 campaign.

His speech was filled with Trump’s trademark criticisms about the news media, which he says sides with liberals, and of special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s Russia probe. Mueller had been scheduled to testify Wednesday on Capitol Hill, but it was postponed. Trump brought him up anyway. “What happened to me with this witch hunt should never be allowed to happen to another president,” he said.

He also talked about illegal immigration, a main theme of his first presidential bid that is taking center stage in his re-election campaign. He brushed off the criticism he has gotten for saying that the congresswomen should go back home. “So controversial,” he said sarcastically.

The four freshmen have portrayed the president as a bully who wants to “vilify” not only immigrants, but all people of color. They say they are fighting for their priorities to lower health care costs and pass a Green New Deal addressing climate change, while his thundering attacks are a distraction and tear at the core of America values.

The Democratic-led U.S. House voted Tuesday to condemn Trump for what it labeled “racist comments,” despite near-solid GOP opposition and the president’s own insistence that he doesn’t have a “racist bone” in his body.

Trump hasn’t shown signs of being rattled by the House rebuke, and called an impeachment resolution that failed in Congress earlier Wednesday “ridiculous.” The condemnation carries no legal repercussions and his latest harangues struck a chord with supporter in Greenville, whose chants of “Four more years!” and “Build that wall!” bounced off the rafters.

Vice President Mike Pence was first up after spending the day in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and visiting troops at Fort Bragg. “North Carolina and America needs four more years,” Pence said.

It was Trump’s sixth visit to the state as president and his first 2020 campaign event in North Carolina, where he defeated Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Before Trump arrived, Wayne Goodwin, chairman of the North Carolina Democratic Party, spoke at a rally in Greenville and called Trump “just another corrupt snake oil salesman.”

“From sparking a harmful trade war that puts our farmers in the crosshairs, to giving corporations a billion-dollar giveaway at the expense of our middle class, to repeatedly pushing to end protections for pre-existing conditions and raise health care costs, his broken promises have hurt hard-working families across North Carolina,” Goodwin said.

New story in Politics from Time: Chuck Schumer Calls for FBI to Investigate FaceApp Amid Surge in Popularity

People online might be having fun making themselves look older with FaceApp, but Sen. Chuck Schumer has spoken out about his concerns with how the trending app uses data.

FaceApp has gained a recent spike in popularity as celebrities and online influencers share photos of themselves looking decades older, thanks to an editing tool that can show a picture of what a person might look like 20 or more years in the future. The app, which first emerged in 2017 from a developer based in Russia, has caused concern over privacy issues and how it might use data and photos of faces provided by people.

In light of such concerns, Schumer wrote a letter to the FBI and FTC Wednesday, asking that they look into whether the data being provided by Americans is being used by anyone with connections to the Russian government.

“FaceApp’s location in Russia raises questions regarding how and when the company provides access to the data of U.S. citizens to third parties, including potentially foreign governments,” the Senate minority leader wrote in his request to the FBI. The request was first reported by NBC News.

 

Schumer also requested that the FTC look at whether there are “adequate safeguards in place to prevent the privacy of Americans using the application … from being compromised.”

“In the age of facial recognition technology as both a surveillance and security use, it is essential that users have the information they need to ensure their personal and biometric data remains secure,” he wrote.

 

New story in Politics from Time: House Votes to Block Democrat’s Trump Impeachment Effort

WASHINGTON — The House easily killed a maverick Democrat’s effort Wednesday to impeach President Donald Trump for his recent racial insults against lawmakers of color, in a vote that provided an early snapshot of just how divided Democrats are over trying to oust him in the shadow of the 2020 elections.

Democrats leaned against the resolution by Texas Rep. Al Green by about a 3-2 margin as the chamber killed the measure 332-95. The vote showed that so far, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been successful in her effort to prevent a Democratic stampede toward impeachment before additional evidence is developed that could win over a public that has so far been skeptical about ousting Trump.

Even so, the numbers also showed that the number of Democrats open to impeachment remains substantial. About two dozen more conversions would split the party’s caucus in half over an issue that could potentially dominate next year’s presidential and congressional campaigns.

“There’s a lot of grief, from a lot of different quarters,” Green, speaking to reporters after the vote, said of the reaction he’s received from colleagues. “But sometimes you just have to take a stand.”

Every voting Republican favored derailing Green’s measure.

Pelosi and other party leaders considered his resolution a premature exercise that needlessly forced vulnerable swing-district lawmakers to cast a perilous and divisive vote. It also risked deepening Democrats’ already raw rift over impeachment, dozens of the party’s most liberal lawmakers itching to oust Trump.

Recent polling has shown solid majorities oppose impeachment. Even if the Democratic-run House would vote to impeach Trump, the equivalent of filing formal charges, a trial by the Republican-led Senate would all but certainly acquit him, keeping him in office.

Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters earlier that six House committees are investigating Trump.

“That is the serious path we’re on,” she said.

Democrats are also eagerly awaiting next week’s scheduled public testimony to two House committees by special counsel Robert Mueller.

With Democrats preparing to defend their House majority in next year’s elections, Green’s measure put incumbents in closely divided districts in a difficult spot. Democrats owe their House majority to 39 challengers who won in 2018 in what had been GOP-held districts, places where moderate voters largely predominate.

“It’s not ideal for a lot of people to have to take that vote right now,” one of them, Rep. Katie Hill, D-Calif., said Wednesday of impeachment. She said “if and when” the House votes on impeaching Trump, it should happen when “we can make sure our constituents understand and can get behind” the move.

Democrats are also concerned that Republicans could use a failed impeachment vote to try taking the steam out of the continuing probes into Trump’s performance in office by arguing that the House had demonstrated it had no appetite for removing him from office.

“This is all they’ve ever wanted to do from the day of the election” in 2016, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said in a brief interview.

Green’s measure cites Trump’s recent “racist” comments imploring Democratic congresswomen of color to go back to their native countries. The House voted Tuesday largely along party lines to condemn those statements . His targets were Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.

All are American and all but Omar were born in the U.S. They’ve also been among the party’s most outspoken advocates of impeachment.

Trump is “unfit to be President, unfit to represent the American values of decency and morality, respectability and civility, honesty and propriety, reputability and integrity, is unfit to defend the ideals that have made America great, unfit to defend liberty and justice for all,” Green’s resolution said.

Green’s resolution does not mention Mueller’s investigation into whether Trump’s 2016 campaign conspired with Russia to influence that year’s congressional election or whether the president obstructed Mueller’s probe.

Those threads have been why some Democrats have backed impeachment. More than 80 of the 235 House Democrats have said an impeachment inquiry is merited.

Mueller’s 448-page report detailed several episodes in which Trump tried to influence his investigation. Mueller said he could not exonerate Trump on obstruction and indicated in a May news conference that it was up to Congress to decide what to do.

Those who support an impeachment inquiry have argued that it would accelerate the process and bolster their arguments in court. Some Democrats are frustrated with the slow pace of their party’s investigations of the president. Democrats have had little success so far in their attempts to investigate beyond what Mueller detailed, as the White House has blocked several witnesses from answering questions.

Green’s measure was the third resolution to impeach Trump he has brought to the House floor since 2017. The eight-term veteran has spurned leadership entreaties to hold off in the past.

But while his first two efforts were symbolic because they came with Republicans controlling the House, this time Democrats run the chamber.

New story in Politics from Time: Here’s Who Qualified for the Second Round of 2020 Democratic Debates

CNN is starting to set the stage for the second round of 2020 Democratic primary debates it is hosting over two nights at the end of July.

The Democratic National Committee announced the list of candidates who qualified for the second run of debates on Wednesday. Frontrunner candidates including former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Bernie Sanders have all made the list, according to CNN.

Other candidates who will be on one of the debate stages are former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro, Sen. Kristen Gillibrand, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Marianne Williamson, Sen. Cory Booker, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Sen. Michael Bennet, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Rep. Tim Ryan, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Gov. Jay Inslee, Andrew Yang, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former Rep. John Delaney and Gov. Steve Bullock.

The candidates who qualified for the second run of debates are essentially the same ones who faced off in the first round of debates held in June. The only change is the addition of Bullock, the governor of Montana, who will replace former candidate Eric Swalwell, a representative from California. Rep. Swalwell dropped out of the race earlier this month. Bullock, who was bumped from the first debates after the DNC disqualified one of the surveys that would have enabled him to be on the stage, has advocated for campaign finance reform and is known for signing an executive order to reinstate net neutrality in Montana after the FCC repealed it on a national level.

Candidates could qualify to make the debate if they either polled at 1% in three polls or received 65,000 individual donations.

The next round of debates will be held in Detroit on July 30 and 31 and air on CNN at 8 p.m. ET, with the candidates split between the two nights. CNN will determine each night’s lineup in a random drawing to be held on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET. Dana Bash, Don Lemon and Jake Tapper will be the moderators for both debates.

New story in Politics from Time: Obama Praises Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens for ‘Fidelity to Our Highest Ideals’

Former President Barack Obama has praised retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who died Tuesday, saying that the late jurist “heard cases with a level of grace, humility and fidelity to our highest ideals that we should hope all our public servants strive for.”

Stevens was the third-longest serving justice in history. He died after suffering a stroke at the age of 99, passed away peacefully with his daughters by this side, the Supreme Court said in a statement.

“His balancing of legal precedent with the Constitution’s call for equal justice and an understanding of Americans’ daily lives helped the court—and the country—navigate controversial and defining questions of who we are and who we can be,” Obama said in a statement Wednesday. “And in doing so with his signature pragmatism and modesty, he played a pivotal role in carrying forward our founding promise into today.”

Stevens retired in 2010, leading the way for Obama, a Democrat, to nominate Elena Kagan to replace him.

“He was a good man, a decent man. And our country is better because of his leadership and his example,” Obama said. “Michelle and I send our warmest condolences to his family and friends, all those who worked with him, and all those whose lives are better because of his legacy.”

Republican President Gerald Ford had nominated Stevens to the Supreme Court in 1975 in the wake of the Watergate scandal. During his time on the bench, Stevens’ opinions evolved and generally moved farther to the left.

Stevens was known for being a liberal and a pragmatist voice on the Supreme Court, even as the court became more conservative.

In the more than three decades that he served as a judge, Stevens became more supportive of affirmative action and more opposed to the death penalty. In one key opinion, he held that any fact that could increase a defendant’s criminal sentence needed to be found by a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.

Stevens remained vocal even after his retirement from the Supreme Court.

In recent years, the retired judge urged the US to legalize marijuana and repeal the Second Amendment. Stevens also weighed in on the controversial confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, saying that he no longer believed Kavanaugh was qualified for a seat on the bench. In 2017, he criticized Trump’s remarks against courts pushing back against a proposed travel ban involving several Muslim-majority countries.