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SUPREME COURT OF THE U.S. > #105 - ASSOCIATE JUSTICE DAVID H. SOUTER

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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Nov 03, 2011 10:14PM) (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
This thread is dedicated to the discussion of former Associate Justice David H. Souter (105) and all related subjects. Justice David H. Souter is retired.

Biography

A man of unusual and peculiar sensibilities, David H. Souter came to the Supreme Court as a complete enigma. Souter, who received his nomination to the Court from President George Bush only months after his promotion to a federal appeals court, lacked a public reputation. As a result, the press labeled him the "stealth justice," an unknown judge with uncertain values. Conservatives praised Souter as a restrained jurist and predicted that he would bolster the right-wing bloc of Antonin Scalia and William H. Rehnquist. The Bush White House assured the Republican far right that Souter would be a "home run." Liberals, on the other hand, hoped secretly that the Bush nominee would fail in expectations and emerge as a surprise to his sponsors. To this day, Souter has avoided validating either camp. The Free Congress Foundation, an organization dedicated to coordinating support for conservative nominees, has called their optimistic predictions "miserably inaccurate." The Women's Legal Defense Fund, a liberal group for the advancement of women's rights, staged protests at various times against Souter and has expressed dismay at his votes. The unhappiness of both political extremes speaks volumes of the quirky justice. To this day, Souter has demonstrated a moderate jurisprudence though he has not appeared afraid to wander deep into either camp along the political spectrum. Court watchers continue to be amused by Souter's eccentric habits and behaviors.

David Hackett Souter was born in Melrose, Massachusetts, on September 17, 1939. Although Souter grew up with his parents, Joseph and Helen, in Massachusetts, he spent many of his summers at his maternal grandparent's farm in Weare, New Hampshire. Souter's grandparents passed away when he was eleven and his family decided to move to the farm. Since then, Souter has claimed Weare as his home. Souter's father worked as a banker in the nearby state capital of Concord. He passed away in 1976, survived by Souter and his mother who still resides in a retirement community close to the Souter farm.

Souter attended a local public school where his teachers immediately recognized the great intelligence of their young student. His parents sent Souter to Concord High School where he excelled. His classmates voted him, upon graduation, the "most sophisticated" and "most likely to succeed." After high school, Souter attended Harvard University where he continued to enjoy academic success. He graduated magna cum laude in 1961 and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. The recipient of a Rhodes scholarship to attend Oxford, Souter spent the next two years earning his bachelor's and master's degrees in jurisprudence from Magdalen College. Souter returned to the United States in 1963 to study law at Harvard.

After law school, Souter went back to his home and accepted a position with the Concord law firm of Orr & Reno. Souter based his decision on his previous experience there as a summer clerk and his desire to remain close to home. At Orr & Reno, Souter practiced a wide variety of law ranging from corporate law to general litigation. He also began participation in various civic activities that would eventually lead to trusteeships in both the Concord Hospital and the New Hampshire Historical Society. Souter's activism in civic activities encouraged him to seek a wider role in public service. His colleagues at his firm observed that he seemed discontent with private practice. Thus, Souter eagerly accepted a position offered by the attorney general of New Hampshire in 1968.

Souter began as an assistant attorney general in the criminal division, but his talents quickly propelled him to higher office. When Warren Rudman became attorney general of New Hampshire, in 1971, he picked Souter as his assistant. Souter earned Rudman's admiration and respect. When Rudman resigned from office a few years later, New Hampshire's Governor Meldrin Thompson appointed Souter to the top job. As attorney general for New Hampshire, Souter fought a gambling legalization movement in the state as well as protests against a nuclear power plant.

Souter became a judge after two years of service as the attorney general. Since New Hampshire's trial court did not reside in any permanent seat, Souter and his fellow judges traveled the state's ten counties. This experience exposed Souter to a wide variety of cases and situations. Most of the cases that came before him dealt with criminal matters and he soon gained a tough- on-crime reputation. Still, his fairness and intelligence won him praise even from defense attorneys.

Governor John Sununu promoted Souter to the New Hampshire Supreme Court in 1983. Souter quickly established himself as a knowledgeable jurist and an independent thinker. President Bush appointed Souter to the U.S. Court of Appeals in 1990. Justice William J. Brennan retired five months later, however, and Bush decided to move Souter up again. Although Sununu and Rudman denied involvement in Souter's nomination, Souter's friendship with both no doubt helped his cause. The ever-unassuming Souter had to be reassured by Rudman that, in light of all the qualified candidates available, an interview with Bush was really necessary. Souter's nomination passed nearly unopposed through the Senate.

Souter's first year on the Court was undistinguished. He wrote few opinions and did not display many hints of his judicial predisposition. Since then, he has appeared more comfortable on the Court. He has settled into the moderate camp of the Court as evidenced by his unprecedented 24 similar votes with the centrist Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Together with O'Connor and Kennedy, Souter has formed a moderate bloc in the Court that prevents domination from the conservative wing.

Souter's engaging personality explains his quick friendship with fellow justices. As one of the few people unoffended by Scalia's verbal argumentation style, Souter has become a good friend with the conservative justice despite the fact that they often clash on controversial issues. Souter has maintained his simple, bachelor lifestyle. He brings his own lunch, consisting of apples and yogurt, to work everyday and lives in an undecorated apartment. He still returns home to Weare during the summer breaks where he climbs the local mountains and visits his mother.

Souter retired from the bench on June 29, 2009. He had no regrets upon leaving Washington DC to return to the land that he loved.

Personal Information

Born: Sunday, September 17, 1939

Childhood Location: Massachusetts

Childhood Surroundings: Massachusetts

Religion: Episcopalian

Ethnicity: English

Father: Joseph A. Souter

Father's Occupation: Banker

Mother: Helen A. Hackett

Family Status: Middle

Position: Associate Justice

Seat: 5

Commissioned on: Tuesday, October 2, 1990

Sworn In: Monday, October 8, 1990

Left Office: Monday, June 29, 2009

Reason For Leaving: retired

Length of Service: 18 years, 8 months, 21 days

Home: New Hampshire

Fact Box

Born 1939 in Melrose, MA

Federal Judicial Service:

Judge, U. S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
Nominated by George H.W. Bush on January 24, 1990, to a seat vacated by Hugh Henry Bownes; Confirmed by the Senate on April 27, 1990, and received commission on April 30, 1990. Service terminated on October 8, 1990, due to appointment to another judicial position.

Associate Justice, Supreme Court of the United States
Nominated by George H.W. Bush on July 25, 1990, to a seat vacated by William Joseph Brennan, Jr.; Confirmed by the Senate on October 2, 1990, and received commission on October 3, 1990.

Education: Harvard College, B.A., 1961
Magdalen College, Oxford University, B.A., 1963
Magdalen College, Oxford University, M.A., 1963
Harvard Law School, LL.B., 1966

Professional Career:
Rhodes scholar, Magdalen College, Oxford University, 1961-1963
Private practice, Concord, New Hampshire, 1966-1968
Assistant state attorney general, New Hampshire, 1968-1971
Deputy state attorney general, New Hampshire, 1971-1976
State attorney general, New Hampshire, 1976-1978
Associate justice, Superior Court of New Hampshire, 1978-1983
Associate justice, Supreme Court of New Hampshire, 1983-1990

Source: Federal Judicial Center

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Supreme Court Associate Justice David H. Souter - retired


message 2: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
The High Court
By Robert Barnes

Retired Justice David H. Souter, ‘the luckiest guy,’ returns to his books

Some people seemed like they’d be naturals for the Supreme Court, but it never happened. No opening on the court materialized when they hit their prime, or the wrong president was in office when the chance presented itself.

Some people seemed like naturals, and it worked out. John G. Roberts Jr. and Elena Kagan, for instance, were mentioned as potential stars early in their careers. Roberts was 37 and Kagan 39 when presidents of their parties tried to put them on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, a staging ground for future high-court justices.

And then there’s David Hackett Souter, who was awarded the prize that so many long for and then seemed ambivalent about it for the rest of his nearly two-decade tenure. He was different from the others. And now, in an even more exclusive club of retired justices, he has shown he’s different from them too.

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor crisscrosses the country hearing cases, accepting awards and crusading against the rising tide of campaign money being raised to elect judges. Justice John Paul Stevens has written a book about the 35 years he spent on the court, and he regularly grades the work of the justices.

Souter, on the other hand, has returned to his beloved New Hampshire, although not to the ramshackle farmhouse that was the fodder for so many feature stories. He was advised that the place would collapse under the weight of his massive book collection, so he settled into a perfectly normal-looking and lush neighborhood near Concord.

Or as “The honorable David H. Souter ’61, LL.B. ’66, LL.D. ’10, testified in his fiftieth-reunion class report,” reprinted recently in Harvard Magazine:

“I retired when the Supreme Court rose for the summer recess in 2009, and a couple of weeks later I drove north from Washington with no regrets about the prior 19 years or about the decision to try living a more normal life for whatever time might remain.”

Remainder of great article from the Washington Post:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politic...


message 3: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
“The Tug of History”

The College Pump

Primus V [4]

The honorable David H. Souter ’61, LL.B. ’66, LL.D. ’10, testified in his fiftieth-reunion class report as follows: “I retired when the Supreme Court rose for the summer recess in 2009, and a couple of weeks later I drove north from Washington [to New Hampshire] with no regrets about the prior 19 years or about the decision to try living a more normal life for whatever time might remain. As for the past, I had come to agree with something Justice Blackmun said to me years before. He remarked one day that I, like most justices, would probably have lived a happier life if I had never been appointed to the Court, but that in time I’d come to find a value in being there that was at least worth everything the Court took from me in return. He was right, and when it was time to sum up I realized that the appointment had given me the chance to do the best useful work that was in me, and the pressures always bearing on the Court had forced me to make good on what I could do. I couldn’t ask for more. And while the quality of the workmanship may be pronounced good, bad, or indifferent…, I realized long before I submitted my resignation that whatever the verdict might turn out to be, I was the luckiest guy in the world.

“As to life after the Court,…[I put] endless effort into revising my residential arrangements to satisfy the needs of an accumulation of books…that some would call excessive. But I hope some of those books will be the focus of what comes next: I’ve had so little chance for serious reading for the last couple of decades, as my job devoured most of the time I had. My plan is to resume an interrupted education and follow out some lines of interest suppressed as far back as college.

“The menu is mostly history: the classical period, the Carolingians, Britain up through the fourteenth century, American Puritanism as seen by historians after Perry Miller, the United States from Jefferson through Lincoln. It may be that the seemingly intrinsic attraction that past time has for me is merely a desire for escapism, as I look out at the nation and world with little optimism, but it may also be that the tug of history gathers some force from a hope of getting a better perspective on what I see around me now, maybe a perspective even as sound as one in evidence on Commencement morning last May.

“Not only did Harvard generously award me an honorary doctorate, but it gave me the great pleasure of spending a little time with a fellow degree recipient, Meryl Streep. She happened to be somewhat ahead of me in the cohort of honorands processing into the New Yard between rows of regular degree candidates, and we were just about at the corner of Widener when one senior boy reluctantly took his eyes off the eminent actress and noticed me. He smiled with diminished voltage as he said, ‘You’re no Meryl Streep.’”


message 4: by Alisa (new)

Alisa (mstaz) Thanks Bentley. We will surely have more to add on this enigmatic Justice.


message 5: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
For sure.

Retired Associate Justice David Souter's Opinions:

http://www.oyez.org/justices/david_h_...


message 6: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
Interesting site with various links:

http://supremecourtratings.com/david-...


message 7: by Katy (new)

Katy (kathy_h) Opinions of David H. Souter



You can read his case opinions here: http://www.oyez.org/justices/david_h_...


message 8: by Francie (new)

Francie Grice U.S. Constitution, Politics and Civic Discourse

Former Justice David Souter moderated a panel on the U.S. Constitution and its role in shaping civil society. Among the issues they addressed were the state of political discourse, partisanship, causes of political polarization, and ways to encourage civil participation. They responded to questions from the audience.

http://www.c-span.org/video/?301851-2...


message 9: by Francie (new)

Francie Grice The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic

The Liberty Amendments Restoring the American Republic by Mark R. Levin by Mark R. Levin Mark R. Levin

Synopsis:

For a century, the Statists have steadfastly constructed a federal Leviathan, distorting and evading our constitutional system in pursuit of an all-powerful, ubiquitous central government. The result is an ongoing and growing assault on individual liberty, state sovereignty, and the social compact. Levin argues that if we cherish our American heritage, it is time to embrace a constitutional revival.

The delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia and the delegates to each state’s ratification convention foresaw a time when—despite their best efforts to forestall it—the Federal government might breach the Constitution’s limits and begin oppressing the people. Agencies such as the IRS and EPA and programs such as Obamacare demonstrate that the Framers’ fear was prescient.

Therefore, the Framers provided two methods for amending the Constitution. The second was intended for our current circumstances—empowering the states to bypass Congress and call a convention for the purpose of amending the Constitution. Levin argues that we, the people, can avoid a perilous outcome by seeking recourse, using the method called for in the Constitution itself.

The Framers adopted ten constitutional amendments, called the Bill of Rights, that would preserve individual rights and state authority. Levin lays forth eleven specific prescriptions for restoring our founding principles, ones that are consistent with the Framers’ design. His proposals—such as term limits for members of Congress and Supreme Court justices and limits on federal taxing and spending—are pure common sense, ideas shared by many. They draw on the wisdom of the Founding Fathers—including James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and numerous lesser-known but crucially important men—in their content and in the method for applying them to the current state of the nation.

Now is the time for the American people to take the first step toward reclaiming what belongs to them. The task is daunting, but it is imperative if we are to be truly free.


message 10: by Lorna, Assisting Moderator (T) - SCOTUS - Civil Rights (new)

Lorna | 1918 comments Mod
David H. Souter
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States October 8, 1990 - June 29, 2009


Pete Souza/Chicago Tribune/MCT

Regarded by Republicans as a “home run” nomination to support their ideologies, Justice Souter furthered his status as an enigma and surprised everyone when he served on the Supreme Court of the United States and voted reliably with the court’s liberal members. David Hackett Souter was born in Massachusetts as the only child of Joseph and Helen Souter. When he was eleven, his family moved to his grandparents’ farmhouse in New Hampshire. He attended Harvard University for his undergraduate degree, where he majored in philosophy and expressed his interest in law through his senior thesis, which was on the legal philosophy of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. Souter graduated magna cum laude in 1961 and went on to study jurisprudence at Magdalen College at Oxford for two years on a Rhodes scholarship. Afterwards, he returned to Harvard for law school and graduated in 1966. 

Souter began his career as a lawyer in New Hampshire at a prominent private firm, Orr & Reno, and was already described as a “natural judge” by his colleagues. After realizing he disliked private practice, he took a position in the New Hampshire Attorney General’s office in 1968. Three years later, Souter became deputy to the state Attorney General, Warren Rudman, who later became a United States Senator. When Rudman stepped down in 1976, Souter was appointed to take his place. 

Again quickly assuming new responsibilities, two years later, Souter was appointed Associate Justice of the New Hampshire Superior Court. While in this position, Souter became familiar with both criminal and civil cases and developed a strong interest in the jury system. Five years later, in 1978, Governor John Sununu appointed Souter to the Supreme Court of New Hampshire. In 1990, Sununu, while serving as George H.W. Bush’s chief of staff, recommended Souter for Justice Brennan’s seat on the Supreme Court. At the time of his nomination, Souter’s only national service was his three months on the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. Souter’s confirmation to the Supreme Court was easy compared to later appointees, as his professional record in state courts was uncontroversial. The few senators that voted against him disliked his close ties with conservative New Hampshire politicians. But by the late 1990s, Souter moved towards voting more consistently with the liberal justices, such as Justices John Paul Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Once on the Court, Souter’s personality and vision of the law became evident in his opinions. His writings reflected the influence of Justice Holmes and of the Harvard Law School, most notably in his decision in Washington v. Glucksberg (1997), when he discussed the value of the common law. Many of Souter’s opinions expressed a view that law should depend on underlying empirical facts and should change when those empirical realities shift. For example, in Nixon v. Shrink Missouri PAC (2000), Souter stated that courts should be differential to legislative judgments about the need for campaign finance regulations.
 
Souter strongly opposed  the Court enforcing federalism-based limits on Congress’s enumerated powers, and the view that the Court should limit the extent to which race can be taken into account in the design of election districts. His consistent dissents on these issues urged the Court to take a less aggressive role in limiting the actions of political branches. In the area of religion, Souter strongly favored separation between religion and government, which was evident in his opinion in Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Group of Boston (1995). 

Two of Souter’s votes in important cases have highlighted his legacy and are particularly characteristic of his time on the bench. In Bush v. Gore (2000), Souter agreed with the majority that the recount in Florida was unconstitutional but also agreed with the dissent when they said the Court does not have the authority to terminate the recount process. In Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey (1992), Souter coauthored an opinion with Justice Sandra Day O’Connor affirming Roe v. Wade, asserting a strong justification for adhering to the Court’s precedent. 

Long before President Obama’s election in 2008, Souter had expressed a desire to leave Washington, D.C. and go back to his native New Hampshire. Once he was certain no other justices planned to retire in June 2009, Souter announced his retirement and moved back to his beloved New Hampshire, where he resides to this day. 

Other:
David Hackett Souter Traditional Republican on the Rehnquist Court by Tinsley E. Yarbrough by Tinsley E. Yarbrough (no photo)

The Role of Information and Communication Technologies in Postconflict Reconstruction by David Souter by David Souter (no photo)

Source(s): Oyez


message 11: by Lorna, Assisting Moderator (T) - SCOTUS - Civil Rights (new)

Lorna | 1918 comments Mod
Retired Justice David H. Souter, ‘the luckiest guy,’ returns to his books


Photo USA Today

By ROBERT BARNES September 11, 2011

Some people seemed like they’d be naturals for the Supreme Court, but it never happened. No opening on the court materialized when they hit their prime, or the wrong president was in office when the chance presented itself.

Some people seemed like naturals, and it worked out. John G. Roberts Jr. and Elena Kagan, for instance, were mentioned as potential stars early in their careers. Roberts was 37 and Kagan 39 when presidents of their parties tried to put them on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, a staging ground for future high-court justices.

And then there’s David Hackett Souter, who was awarded the prize that so many long for and then seemed ambivalent about it for the rest of his nearly two-decade tenure. He was different from the others. And now, in an even more exclusive club of retired justices, he has shown he’s different from them too.

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor crisscrosses the country hearing cases, accepting awards and crusading against the rising tide of campaign money being raised to elect judges. Justice John Paul Stevens has written a book about the 35 years he spent on the court, and he regularly grades the work of the justices.

Souter, on the other hand, has returned to his beloved New Hampshire, although not to the ramshackle farmhouse that was the fodder for so many feature stories. He was advised that the place would collapse under the weight of his massive book collection, so he settled into a perfectly normal-looking and lush neighborhood near Concord.

Or as “The honorable David H. Souter ’61, LL.B. ’66, LL.D. ’10, testified in his fiftieth-reunion class report,” reprinted recently in Harvard Magazine:

“I retired when the Supreme Court rose for the summer recess in 2009, and a couple of weeks later I drove north from Washington with no regrets about the prior 19 years or about the decision to try living a more normal life for whatever time might remain.”

A normal life that is a little different from most retirees. Like other retired justices, Souter is encouraged to continue to hear cases, and he appears to be a regular at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit in Boston. He has served on dozens of cases and a LexisNexis search indicates he’s written 29 opinions.

But mostly he says he is reading. Souter complained just before he left the court that the work there kept him from pursuing his real intellectual interests. He said he underwent a “sort of annual intellectual lobotomy” when the court term started every fall.

But now he is free to fulfill what he calls “an interrupted education,” and the syllabus is daunting.

“The menu is mostly history: the classical period, the Carolingians, Britain up through the fourteenth century, American Puritanism as seen by historians after Perry Miller, the United States from Jefferson through Lincoln,” he wrote.

For others with interrupted educations, the Carolingians refers to the dynasty that ruled Western Europe beginning around A.D. 750.

Souter, who turns 72 this week, strikes a melancholy tone: “It may be that the seemingly intrinsic attraction that past time has for me is merely a desire for escapism, as I look out at the nation and world with little optimism.”

Souter famously said he had the best job in the worst city. He recalled a conversation with Justice Harry A. Blackmun, who told him that, like most justices, he “would probably have lived a happier life if I had never been appointed to the court,” but that it would be worth it.

Souter said his appointment by President George H.W. Bush gave him “the chance to do the best useful work that was in me.” No matter what the was verdict on the “quality of my workmanship . . . I was the luckiest guy in the world.”

Souter has commented on the workings of the court only once since retirement, in a Harvard commencement speech. He talked about the difficulty of interpreting the Constitution and how its values are, at times, in conflict with each other. He advocated addressing “constitutional uncertainties” by “relying on reason, by respecting all the words the framers wrote, by facing facts and by seeking to understand their meaning for living people.”

It provoked conservatives, who saw it as an attack on textualism, and led them once more to express their regret about Souter’s appointment.

But that day in 2010 at Harvard also provided Souter a fond memory, and one more chance for self-deprecation.

One of his fellow honorees was Meryl Streep.

“She happened to be somewhat ahead of me in the cohort of honor and processing into the New Yard between rows of regular degree candidates, and we were just about at the corner of Widener when one senior boy reluctantly took his eyes off the eminent actress and noticed me,” Souter wrote.

“He smiled with diminished voltage as he said, ‘You’re no Meryl Streep.’”

Other:

David Hackett Souter Traditional Republican on the Rehnquist Court by Tinsley E. Yarbrough by Tinsley E. Yarbrough (no photo)

Source: The Washington Post


message 12: by Lorna, Assisting Moderator (T) - SCOTUS - Civil Rights (new)

Lorna | 1918 comments Mod
The Justice Who Built the Trump Court
Almost 30 years ago, a stealth nominee—not Robert Bork—changed everything about the politics of confirmation fights.

By JEFF GREENFIELD July 9, 2018


David Souter, second from right, pictured at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, Monday, May 20, 2013. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

Hyperbole is the native tongue of political prognostication, but it’s no exaggeration to assert that the Supreme Court appears headed for a conservative era unlike anything since the 1937 “switch in time that saved nine”—when the court began to validate the New Deal legislation it had struck down all through Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first term. With President Donald Trump’s next appointment—one that will all but surely win confirmation—the new majority will feature hostility to labor and consumers, friendliness to corporate power, skepticism about protecting and expanding the franchise, and a dubious (at best) acceptance of the unenumerated privacy right that underlie the abortion and gay rights decisions. There’s a whiff of Lochner in the air; that 1905 decision, since overturned, forbade the regulation of workers’ hours—a 10-hour workday and a 60-hour workweek—as a violation of “freedom of contract.”

Clearly, Trump’s next nominee will be a major player in this impending shift. But if you’re looking for the real source of what is happening, I propose a different, and at first blush, unlikely candidate: a justice who retired nine years ago, and whose departure had no impact on the ideological composition of the court. As much as any single justice, David Souter—for who he was, and who he wasn’t—fundamentally altered the political terrain on which the coming confirmation battle will be fought.

When Souter was nominated in 1990 to replace the retiring William Brennan, conservatives had built up a lengthening set of grievances about the Supreme Court nominees of their party’s presidents. From Eisenhower on, Republican presidents had picked a remarkable number of justices who turned out to be either moderate or—just as frequently—squarely in the liberal camp. Earl Warren, William Brennan, Henry Blackmun and John Paul Stevens were among the most consistent, ardent members of the court’s left. Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy were “swing” votes. And even those with strong conservative credentials were less than sure votes. Warren Burger, nominated by Richard Nixon, voted with the seven-member majority to make abortion a constitutionally protected right. (Lewis Powell and Potter Stewart concurred). William Rehnquist, chose as a strong “law and order” justice by Ronald Reagan, would later pronounce the Miranda warning (“you have a right to remain silent”) a permanent feature of the criminal justice system.

For conservatives, this added up to literal decades of frustration. No matter who occupied the Oval Office, the Supreme Court over time steadily tilted on a liberal axis: outlawing prayer in schools, expanding the rights of suspected criminals, limiting the place of religion in the public square, mandating “one man one vote” for state legislatures and congressional districts, and finding a right of privacy nowhere set down in any precise constitutional amendment that sharply limited laws affecting the personal behavior of men and women.

This frustration had, in retrospect, an influence of a very different sort among liberals. Given a half century of history, the court seemed a permanent repository of liberal impulses. Yes, when a Robert Bork was nominated, the political fight was intense, but he was rejected by the Senate. And the long string of Republican nominees who wound up moderate or liberal acted as a kind of soothing balm to liberals; “this is how it is and how it will be.”

When Souter was nominated, he was as little-known as any nominee could be. He had spent his life in New Hampshire, the last seven years of it on the state Supreme Court, where cases shed no light on any matter of constitutional import. He’d been elevated to the federal bench only six months before George H.W. Bush chose him for the highest court in the land.

His chief asset, in fact, was that, in sharp contrast to Bork, whose writings and opinions were bountiful and provocative, Souter had no paper trail whatsoever. So when White House chief of staff (and former New Hampshire governor) John Sununu proclaimed that Souter would be “a home run for conservatives,” many on the right were convinced. A St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist celebrated that Souter would “provide the decisive fifth vote for a broad counterrevolution in constitutional law overturning decisions on abortion, affirmative action and criminal procedure.” That was enough to trigger some on the left into instant opposition: Molly Yard, president of the National Organization for Women, argued that Souter was “almost Neanderthal” and that confirming him would “end freedom for women in this country.”

So there was no reason to doubt his conservative bona fides.

Except there was.

While Souter voted along generally conservative lines in his first year on the bench, he soon began to drift left. By 1992, he was part of the majority in Planned Parenthood v. Casey that reaffirmed the core holding of Roe v. Wade. On cases ranging from voluntary school prayer to affirmative action, Souter lined up with his liberal colleagues. By 1995, the conservative Weekly Standard labeled him the ‘“stealth justice” and called him “one of the staunchest liberals on the court—a more reliable champion of liberal causes than Clinton appointees Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.”
A few decades earlier, Souter’s turn would have been a sticking point for only a segment of the Republican Party. In the Eisenhower-Nixon-Ford days, there were plenty of moderate and even liberal Republicans. But by 1990, the party was decidedly more conservative. And this latest heretic was one too many. His ascension, and his port-side journey, created a rallying cry that governed the next three decades of Republican nominations: “No More Souters!”

When George W. Bush found himself with two vacancies to fill in 2005 (after Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s retirement and Chief Justice Rehnquist’s death), he slotted John Roberts for the chief’s job, and then picked White House counsel and close friend Harriet Miers to succeed O’Connor. It made political sense; for one thing, she’d be the only woman nominated by a Republican president on the court. But objections began to arise almost immediately. Some were about her qualifications, her lack of experience on any bench, and her shaky answers on constitutional issues in her meetings with senators. But a major part of the opposition came from conservative groups that doubted she would be, in Bush’s words, “a good conservative judge.” She had even indicated to Senator Arlen Specter her belief in an unenumerated right of privacy. In the face of this opposition. the president withdrew her nomination and instead chose Court of Appeals Judge Samuel Alito.

Alito was a staunch conservative who, in his job application as deputy assistant attorney general in 1985, named National Review and Barry Goldwater’s 1964 presidential campaign as major influences. His court decisions on almost every issue reflected a consistent conservative philosophy. With increasingly influential groups like the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society as vetters and guardians of the faith, there would be no chance for another Souter to slip through.

The blowback from Souter made the Supreme Court a key—if not the key—issue for conservatives when judging candidates for high office. The Trump campaign grasped this, to its huge advantage. Trump himself, who had once been overtly pro-choice, even to the point of supporting late-term abortions, now pledged, more specifically than any candidate in the past, to pick judges who would overturn Roe v. Wade. That commitment, made during one of his three debates with Hillary Clinton, may well have made the difference in the outcome. Evangelicals, who might have been unsettled by Trump’s behavior and the “Access Hollywood” tape, voted almost 80 percent for Trump.

More telling, the court turned out to have far more salience as a voting issue with conservatives than with liberals, who were perhaps comforted by the past 60 years of court history. Even after Mitch McConnell refused even to hold hearings for Antonin Scalia’s successor, even with the clear evidence that the court’s future was at stake, Supreme Court voters—the 1 in 5 who cited the court as their top issue—broke 56-41for Trump.

Read the remainder of the article: https://www.politico.com/magazine/sto...

Other:

David Hackett Souter Traditional Republican on the Rehnquist Court by Tinsley E. Yarbrough by Tinsley E. Yarbrough (no photo)

Source: Politico


message 13: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
Lorna, I miss him too.


message 14: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44168 comments Mod
On this date in Maine history: May 29 by Joseph Owen



May 29, 2001: The U.S. Supreme Court delivers a decision asserting that Seavey’s Island, in the Piscataqua River and the site of Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, is part of Maine, not New Hampshire, based on an ill-defined 1740 decree by Britain’s King George II.

Remainder of article:
https://www.pressherald.com/2020/05/2...

Source: Portland Press Herald


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