Justice Souter's Retirement Letter to the Court

Before the Court adjourned, now retired Justice David Souter read the following letter from the bench:

Dear Colleagues,

Your generous letter has touched me more than I can say, and I will only try to leave you with some sense of what our common service has meant to me. You quoted the Poet, and I will, too, in words that set out the ideal of the life engaged, "...where love and need are one..."

That phrase accounts for the finest moments of my life on this Court, as we have agreed or contended with each other over those things that matter to decent people in a civil society. For nineteen Terms, I have lived that life with you, all of us sharing our own best years with one another, working side by side as fellow servants and as friends.

I will not sit with you at our bench again after the Court rises for the Summer this time, but neither will I retire from our friendship, which has held us together despite the pull of the most passionate dissent. It has made the work lighter through all my tenure here, and for as long as I live, I will be thankful for it, and be under a very grateful obligation to each one of you.

Yours affectionately,


Just before, Chief Justice Roberts read a letter signed by the other members of the Court and retired Justice O'Connor.

Dear David,

We have all felt a profound sense of loss since the announcement of your decision to retire. For nearly twenty years, the Court has had the benefit of your wisdom, civility, and dedication to the cause of justice. Your keen intellect and broad knowledge have enlarged our deliberations and enriched the Court's jurisprudence.

We deeply value the times we have shared in judicial service. We understand your desire to trade white marble for White Mountains, and return to your land "of easy wind and downy flake." Though you will not be among us in our daily labors, we are grateful that the privilege of your sturdy friendship will endure long beyond your departure from the bench and tables we have shared.