Friday, May 01, 2009

Liberal Supreme Court Justice Souter to be replaced by Sotomayor, Kagan or some such liberal, younger model.

Justice Souter, a comparative youngster on the U. S. Supreme Court at 69, plans to step down at the end of the Court’s term in June. He will no doubt stay on through the beginning of the fall term, if the confirmation of President Obama’s replacement choice takes that long.

Souter was nominated to the Supremes by President George Herbert Walker Bush and confirmed by the Senate in 1990. It was fellow New Hampshireman, John Sununu (the elder), who assured President Bush that Souter would be a good “conservative.” Boy, did Sununu get that wrong! Souter has been part of the four justice Supreme Court liberal voting bloc most of the last 18 years.

Souter has never liked living in DC and his preference for his farmhouse in New Hampshire is apparently the reason for his departing the Court at this time.

The liberal/conservative balance on the court will not change with President Obama’s appointment but Obama will look for someone in the 50ish age range in an attempt to assure that the seat stays in the liberal column for a long time. Also, look for someone with a stronger academic background than Souter, a more well developed liberal philosophy, a woman and a minority.

More than three years ago, this journalist discussed Obama’s preference for someone with “judicial heart,” for the Court in the context of Obama’s decision to vote against the elevation of Judge Roberts to the Supremes. The same traits outlined in that post as Obama preferences for the Supreme Court are relevant to this choice by Obama [Read here].

For ten potential picks by Obama for the Supremes, please go here. This journalist’s assessment would be to bet that President Obama goes with Judge Sotomayor (52, Hispanic female and appellate judicial experience) or former Harvard Law School Dean, now Obama Solicitor General, Elena Kagan (48, female and academic background).