WASHINGTON – FOXWIRE: Supreme Court Justice David Souter has decided to retire from the Supreme Court, a move that will provide President Barack Obama his first opportunity to nominate someone to the nation's highest court.
Souter, 69, is widely regarded as one of the most liberal members of the bench. As such, his departure would not likely lead to a significant change in the close idealogical split that currently defines the Court.
Souter's decision was first reported Thursday night by National Public Radio. Congressional sources tell Fox's Senior Capitol Hill Producer Trish Turner that Souter intends to retire--most likely at the end of the current term in late June. A court spokesman had no comment about the report.
A number of Souter's former law clerks reached late Thursday night were unaware of the news and said they had no advance knowledge of Souter's departure. "A tremendous loss," says
Another former clerk said that she isn't surprised by Souter's decision but "had hoped against hope that he might stay on the bench for another few years," said Mary-Rose Papandrea via email.
Just a few weeks ago at a speech in
Souter's presence in the current liberal block of the Court is a long-standing matter of frustration for conservatives who feel his appointment in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush--a Republican--was a missed opportunity.
Two years later, Souter joined Justice Anthony Kennedy and now retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (who were appointed by Republican Ronald Reagan) in crafting an opinion that affirmed the right to an abortion. The opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey still stands as the most significant abortion related case since Roe v. Wade.
Souter was also part of majority in Kelo v.
That home may very well be part of the reason he's leaving the bench. Souter is rarely seen in
"One of the leaders of the dissents," is how
Souter also was in the minority in Bush v. Gore where he thought