Thursday, April 30, 2009

Souter Retiring

This is big news., April 30, 2009 ยท 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.

Souter has recently been referred to as one of the Court's "liberals". This is a stretch, but it is clear that Souter showed an amazing degree of independence from the Republicans who appointed and supported him. I've always been impressed by his writing and work on the court.

For instance, in this week's oral argument on the preclearance provision of the Voting Rights Act:

Justice David Souter disputes that the day is all that different, laying out the recent empirical evidence of voting disparities and government misconduct.

It was expected that Obama would have opportunities to make one or more appointments early in his term. Just this week rumors surfaced that Clarence Thomas has floated the idea of retiring if he can reach an accommodation with Obama on a replacement. Whoever is appointed to replace Souter will not change the balance of power on the Court, but it does give Obama a chance to start making an impression on the Court's makeup and direction.


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