NPR’s Nina Totenberg reports that Supreme Court Justice David Souter will retire at the end of the court term in June.
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.
So, the question the wingnuts will be asking is who President Obama will appoint: Jeremiah Wright or William Ayers?
Punditry predicts that the president will choose a woman, and if he wants to go completely PC he’ll pick a Latina. Whoever he picks, though, we’ll still have Justices Scalia and Thomas to represent the 19th century wing of jurisprudence.