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Supreme Court Justices Respond to Souter News

The justices of the Supreme Court this afternoon released statements reacting to news their colleague David Souter will step down from the bench. Their statements follow.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr.: Justice Souter has served with great distinction on the Court for nearly 20 years. His desire to return to his native New Hampshire is understandable, but he will be greatly missed in our deliberations.

Associate Justice John Paul Stevens: As Justice Blackmun accurately stated when Justice White advised us of his proposed retirement from the Court, an announcement of this kind "is an emotional occasion." Because Justice Souter is such a good friend, my first reaction to his decision is one of real personal loss. Because I am confident that I know how his professional work will be judged by future historians, my more important reaction is that the Court will suffer a far greater loss than many now realize. I wish he had postponed the decision that he has just announced.

Associate Justice Antonin Scalia: David and I have served on this bench together for almost 20 years -- sitting next to each other at argument for all of that time. I will miss his always intelligent contribution to our work, but most of all I will miss his companionship. The only consolation is that I am sure he will be happy back in his cold and beloved New Hampshire.

Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy: The two months remaining in this term now become all the more precious to us, for we know our splendid colleague Justice David H. Souter will soon leave here for the home and the State to which he longs to return. In our free moments David was one of the best raconteurs, one of the most adept and amusing storytellers, I have ever encountered. In our conferences and deliberations all of us knew we had the guidance of a powerful intellect and a fine, dedicated jurist. The Nation should be grateful always for his integrity and absolute probity, and for his lasting contributions to our law and to the dignity of this Court.

Associate Justice Clarence Thomas: I have been privileged to serve on the Court with Justice Souter for almost two decades. It is an honor to have been one of his colleagues at the Court. Though deeply saddened by the departure of a friend and colleague, I am comforted by the knowledge that the bonds of friendship that have been formed during our toils here shall happily remain firm. Virginia and I wish him much happiness and contentment.

Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Among jurists with whom I have served, Justice David H. Souter is the very best. His level of preparation for the cases we consider is astonishing. He works so hard at getting it right. He is a genuinely caring man and a model of civility. Never have I heard him utter a harsh or unkind word. I count it my great good fortune to have known him as a working colleague and dear friend.

Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer: As a member of this court, Justice Souter has given nineteen years of inspirational service to the Nation. David is a close colleague and a warm personal friend. I shall miss him here. So will we all.

Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito: I was sad to hear of David Souter's decision to retire from the Court. From my first day on the Court, he has been a wonderful colleague. He has dedicated so many years to exemplary judicial service. We will miss him deeply.

By Web Politics Editor  |  May 1, 2009; 6:15 PM ET
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The Republicans have established the precedents of only appointing ideologues to the Supreme Court. Democrats have appeased the right wing for far too long. It is time for both sides to play the same game.

I sincerely hope that Obama appoints a jurist as strong as Mr Souter but who is a Socialist.

It's time that the real people got support from their government, not just the wealthy.

Posted by: zpope | May 4, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Supreme court Justice, David Souter, has been an outstanding illustration of how a Supreme Court Justice should conduct him or herself. His brilliant mind in the legal field is immediately noticed whenever he discusses a case the SC has taken. I trust that Obama will avoid appointing an ideologue on the left, but sends Congress a capable and well rounded candidate to take Souter's place. Actually, Souter, with his judicial temperament and lack of ideologue thinking, will be very difficult to replace. However, I am grateful for our newly sworn-in President that is capable of putting aside ideology and appointing an accomplished and well rounded replacement for Judge Souter. Thank you, Judge Souter for your exemplary service that has successfully tempered some of the extremes that might have occurred considering the make-up of the present Supreme Court.

Posted by: mari2JJ | May 2, 2009 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Thomas and Scalia would’ve probably agreed with the Dredd Scott and Plessy decisions if they had a chance to vote on it.

Obama should appoint a very young (not older than 55) and very liberal jurist (as far on the left as Scalia and Thomas are on the right). He’s got the votes and political capital to do it.

Posted by: sgtpepper23 | May 2, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

I keep hearing David Souter described as a liberal, but that's just an indication of how different this GOP is from what we once called "liberal Republicans" in America. I was one.

I grew up in the Midwest with them (Romney's dad in MI, our two Senators from IL) and the Northeast was once their very center of gravity. But, alas, no more. The GOP now has the racist South to call its very own.

The social issues have made the Republican Party overtly intolerant. The Republicans in the old days were much more about individual freedom.

If you look at Souter with that perspective, he's more of the true Republican than someone like today's Ann Coulter will ever be.

By the way, I'm from the truly beautiful state of New Hampshire myself now; and New Hampshire is now "blue" (after ages of being "red") because of the GOP messing in our private lives.

My suggestion to the GOP -- if they want to grow their political party -- is that they don't mention abortion as a litmus test for serving on the Supreme Court. The right for a woman to choose an abortion (individual freedom) is settled law, whether they accept that fact or not.

Posted by: freespeak | May 2, 2009 7:05 AM | Report abuse

It seems like he's a good guy - hell, even the right-wing troglodytes said nice things about him (although I'm sure the Fox News/hate radio/right-wing blogosphere crowd will, no doubt, be their usual nasty selves).

Posted by: jimkelly54321 | May 2, 2009 5:28 AM | Report abuse

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