Justice Antonin Scalia has announced he will retire at the end of next month.
In a brief statement, the 83-year-old Justice told his fellow justices he was leaving for good.
“I’m leaving to pursue new endeavors in law, politics and public service,” he said in a statement.
“There are many things that have been accomplished here at the Court, but I believe I have reached my greatest limits as a member of this Court.
I intend to devote my energies to other endeavors.”
Scalia, the longest-serving Justice on the Supreme Court, was an ardent defender of the First Amendment.
He was the only justice to vote against the controversial Citizens United Supreme Court ruling, and his dissent on Citizens United was the most significant of his career.
He said in his final remarks that he would not serve out his term.
He did not address what those accomplishments may entail.
“As the Court prepares to depart, I ask the people of this country to remain patient and support the Court’s work as it continues to pursue our constitutional responsibilities,” Scalia said.
“While there are many who have worked tirelessly on this Court, I do not anticipate that the work will ever be complete.”
As Justice Scalia was sworn in for his term on January 20, he had been a lightning rod for partisan political debate for the past year.
He joined the Court in 2006 after his wife, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, was diagnosed with breast cancer.
He has always maintained that he was not a partisan.
But his dissent against the ruling in the Citizens United case has been seen as an attack on the Court and its legitimacy.
He wrote a series of scathing opinions, including one last year that was widely criticized as having too little of substance.
His most recent dissent, however, was a resounding endorsement of the decision.
He acknowledged that it “may be too late to reverse the Citizens U.S.A. decision,” but that the Court should not be distracted from its primary task of upholding the Constitution.
“For me, the task of the Court today is not to revisit old and distant debates,” Scalia wrote.
“The task now is to protect the Constitution.”
The decision in the case that brought the Court into the era of money in politics is the one that has divided the court.
The justices have been divided on the issue, with two of the three dissenting votes in 2014 upholding the decision to force super PACs to disclose their donors.
The other two dissenting votes have been along partisan lines.
In his announcement of his retirement, Scalia called it a “great honor.”
“It is my sincere hope that the court will continue to serve its constitutional function as a forum for advancing the public interest, and not simply as a vehicle for advancing one political agenda or another,” Scalia stated.
He added, “As I have said many times over the years, I intend my final days to be spent pursuing new endeavors, such as pursuing new and higher education, and to pursue public service in government, particularly public safety and homeland security.”
He said he had a “deep respect for the role of the judiciary” and said he was looking forward to continuing to serve “the Constitution.”