Supreme Court Justice David Souter speaks during a dedication ceremony at the State Supreme Courthouse in Concord, N.H, July 9, 2008
NPR has learned that Supreme Court Justice David Souter is planning to retire at the end of the current court term.
The vacancy will give President Obama his first chance to name a member of the high court and begin to shape its future direction.
At 69, Souter is nowhere near the oldest member of the court. In fact he is in the younger half of the court’s age range with five justices older and just three younger. So far as anyone knows, he is in good health. But he has made clear to friends for some time that he wanted to leave Washington, a city he has never liked, and return to his native New Hampshire. Now, according to reliable sources he has decided to take the plunge and has informed the White House of his decision.
Factors in his decision no doubt include the election of President Obama, who would be more likely to appoint a successor attuned to the principles Souter has followed as a moderate-to-liberal member of the court’s more liberal bloc over the past two decades.
In addition, Souter was apparently satisfied than neither the court’s oldest member, 89-year-old John Paul Stevens, nor its lone woman, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who had cancer surgery over the winter, wanted to retire at the end of this term. Not wanting to cause a second vacancy, Souter apparently had waited to learn his colleague’s plans before deciding his own.
Justice Souter was a disappointment to conservatives and the fall-out over his choice by the first President Bush divided conservatives in his re-election bid which he lost to Bill Clinton.
Flap cannot help but think that this retirement, announced conveniently after Senator Arlen Specter’s switch to the Democrat Party is a poke in both President Bushs’ eyes and the GOP.
The philosophical balance of the court will most likely not change with President Obama’s appointment of a successor. By the way, with the Democrat super majority in the United States Senate, the GOP will have NO ability to give any meaningful advice and consent anyway.
Technorati Tags: David Souter, Supreme Court