On Souter

May 14, 2009

A bit overdue, but I thought I would write a little ode to my favorite sitting Supreme Court justice (yep, I have one). Souter is to the “left” what Scalia is to the right; a fiercely intelligent, highly analytical justice with clear, biting rhetoric. (Scalia usually has me until almost the end of his opinion, at which point he jumps the shark and often veers into some crazy dogma that I just can’t follow.) Souter wrote scathing dissents and asked numerous questions, unlike ahem Thomas ahem, leading to a thoughtful and independent opinion not aligned with any particular politic or canon. He was appointed by Bush the first, as a conservative-leaning justice, but quickly shed that mantle more often than not siding with the more liberal justices especially on issues of individual/civil liberties.

I am disappointed that Souter’s given reason for retiring is that he hates Washington, D.C. (he prefers his wooded cabin in New Hampshire surrounded by books). He is a relatively young justice, 69, and apparently was misinformed as to what the term “lifetime appointment” means. However, rumor has it that he was devastated when the Court sided with George W. Bush in Bush v. Gore and has been plotting his exit ever since. So thanks for waiting for Obama. Here’s to an illustrious, albiet short, Supreme Court tenure. Cheers!