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Lewis F. Powell, Jr., came to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1972 reluctantly and at an age when many professionals are anticipating retirement rather than a career change.

But the Court suited him. He grew to love the work, although he often found it agonizing, and he thrived on the role he played in the history of the Constitution.

By the time he retired in 1987, after more than 15 years on the Court, Powell had come to represent a kind of ideal justice -- moderate, flexible, careful. In a sense, his entire life had been preparing him for this final, unexpected role.


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