Reports Justice David Souter is Retiring

CNN and NPR are reporting Supreme Court Justice David Souter is retiring and has informed the White House. NBC's Pete Williams said a few hours ago, maybe, maybe not.

Update: I just got a press release from MSNBC saying Pete Williams broke the story on Rachel Maddow's show tonight.

Washington Post report here, also saying Souter has informed the White House. It gives this list of potential replacement nominees: [More...]

Some of the names that have been circulating include recently confirmed Solicitor General Elena Kagan; U.S. Appeals Court Judges Sonya Sotomayor, Kim McLane Wardlaw, Sandra Lea Lynch and Diane Pamela Wood; and Leah Ward Sears, chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court
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    He wasn't at the top of my list (5.00 / 3) (#2)
    by andgarden on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 09:18:18 PM EST
    as far as expectations were concerned. In any case, if it's true I hope we get a good appointment.

    Per NPR, some expectation (none / 0) (#8)
    by oculus on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 09:32:56 PM EST
    Obama will appoint a female. NPR

    Can he find a hispanic jewish woman from Florida? (5.00 / 3) (#9)
    by andgarden on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 09:33:57 PM EST

    Ha (5.00 / 2) (#18)
    by indy in sc on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 09:45:23 PM EST
    A really good friend of mine is a Puerto Rican Jewish female attorney.  I'll send her name in for consideration.

    How about a Jewish woman justice (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by Cream City on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 10:38:27 PM EST
    born in New York but long in the Heartland now?

    Okay, she's 75, but she's nonstop energy with decades left in her (just got re-elected for a 10-year term on her state court), and there are few so scholarly -- and progressive:

    Wisconsin State Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson.

    Sigh.  She should have been appointed to the Supremes a decade ago, and this would be a different world.


    Cuban ex-pat? (none / 0) (#14)
    by oculus on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 09:38:47 PM EST
    Interesting thought (none / 0) (#15)
    by andgarden on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 09:40:35 PM EST
    All the "mentionees" on (5.00 / 1) (#41)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 11:17:31 PM EST
    the list above are women, no idea why unless they've just trotted out the names they thought of when Justice Ginsberg took ill.

    I can't see Obama nominating anyone for this first of no doubt several vacancies with anybody other than some very, very safe middle-of-the-road white male, frankly.  Hope I'm wrong, but...


    He will. (none / 0) (#12)
    by Tony on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 09:37:40 PM EST
    This nominee will be a woman.

    Granholm... (5.00 / 0) (#20)
    by mike in dc on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 09:50:53 PM EST
    ...I'd kinda like it if he nominated a non-judge, even better if it was someone with elected office experience like Granholm.  

    Ginsburg has cancer, Stevens is in his 80s, and Scalia and Kennedy are both 73.  If he could put 5 progressive-to-moderate justices all under age 55 on the SC over the course of the next 8 years, I'd be a happy camper.

    Obviously there's lots of worthy academics--Tribe, Sunstein (not everyone's cup of tea, I realize), Lessig, maybe even my Torts prof, Jonathan Turley.  

    If we already had a 6-3 edge and another conservative judge surprisingly retired, I'd guess I'd be okay with putting Posner in as the token conservative replacement.

    Why in hell (5.00 / 4) (#36)
    by cal1942 on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 11:04:43 PM EST
    nominate a token conservative?


    Do you think Bush would have nominated a token liberal?

    This is no time to appoint another conservative, we've already got five and five impractacle, childish conservatives is five too many.

    The other side is fighting a war.  We'd better recognize that and make sure we use our big guns while we have the chance.

    Only the future of the nation is riding on it.


    Tell Obama (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 11:21:01 PM EST
    I'm sure (none / 0) (#61)
    by cal1942 on Fri May 01, 2009 at 12:03:54 AM EST
    he wouldn't listen.

    Anyone who would appoint Geithner ...

    I thought I could relax a little after Bush was no longer desecrating the White House.

    No such luck.


    Oh yes... (none / 0) (#65)
    by Thanin on Fri May 01, 2009 at 12:22:39 AM EST
    Im sure all his appointments will be even more conservative than alito...

    Who's a token conservative???? (none / 0) (#72)
    by jbindc on Fri May 01, 2009 at 08:48:19 AM EST
    She's the Democratic Governor of Michigan, former Michigan Attorney General,and before that an Assistant US Attorney.

    Go left! no conservative. (5.00 / 3) (#40)
    by Lil on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 11:16:21 PM EST
    Turley (5.00 / 1) (#43)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 11:20:21 PM EST
    would certainly shake up the Court dynamics, I would think.  Wouldn't mind being a fly on the wall to hear the "discussion" between him and Scalia.

    Waaaaay too timid (none / 0) (#22)
    by andgarden on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 09:53:13 PM EST
    That didn't work out too well w/Rose Bird. (none / 0) (#23)
    by oculus on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 09:53:37 PM EST
    It is a good thing we are on this, as BTD is immersed in NBA game.  

    I've heard Carlos Moreno mentioned as a likely SCOTUS nomination.  California Supreme Court.


    A bit? (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 11:14:54 PM EST
    You think the Republicans and a fair number of blue dog Dems wouldn't successfully filibuster his nomination?   You think Obama would risk a milimeter of political capital by nominating a guy who once got caught with porn on his computer?  Oy.

    In my opinion, Obama should (5.00 / 1) (#64)
    by oculus on Fri May 01, 2009 at 12:05:59 AM EST
    nominate the best person for the job, not necessarily a female.  But that "best person," of course, must be someone of whom I approve.  No Sunsteins.

    Agree (2.00 / 0) (#70)
    by MO Blue on Fri May 01, 2009 at 06:45:23 AM EST
    Definitely, no Sunsteins.

    I find it funny when people trot that line out. (none / 0) (#66)
    by tigercourse on Fri May 01, 2009 at 12:43:50 AM EST
    Like the first thing that comes to their mind when  they find out a woman is likely to get the job is, "but it should be someone qualified!"

    Yeah... (none / 0) (#68)
    by Thanin on Fri May 01, 2009 at 12:58:42 AM EST
    but Im quite sure oculus didnt mean it that way.

    I sure hope this turns out well. (4.57 / 7) (#28)
    by Anne on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 10:32:11 PM EST
    Wish I weren't feeling so apprehensive about the pick; kind of ticked off that I'm not feeling the sense of relief I always thought I would feel when we finally had a Democratic president who would be able nominate someone to the Supreme Court.

    maybe some trepidation (none / 0) (#38)
    by Lil on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 11:13:51 PM EST
    re: the right wing hounds will go CRAZY no matter who he picks. That's how I feel a little, but also happy. I hope it is someone who can stand up for herself.

    I want the most liberal person possible (none / 0) (#59)
    by MrConservative on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 11:55:53 PM EST
    But I am absolutely prepared for Obama to disappoint me by nominating a moderate or even a moderate-conservative.  It would truly be ironic if Obama pulled a Bush Sr. and nominated a conservative Souter.

    Jeff Tooban sez: (none / 0) (#17)
    by andgarden on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 09:44:11 PM EST
    "A supreme court nominee has never been successfully filibustered."

    Um, Abe Fortas?

    Yes, Abe Fortas (none / 0) (#33)
    by cal1942 on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 10:54:41 PM EST
    Supposedly hes retiring in June. (none / 0) (#19)
    by Thanin on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 09:47:57 PM EST

    NPR says he plans to stay until his (none / 0) (#21)
    by oculus on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 09:51:18 PM EST
    replacement is confirmed.

    Ah... (none / 0) (#25)
    by Thanin on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 10:09:52 PM EST
    heard the June date, but that was on CNN but what you say sounds more reasonable.

    Huff Post says it could be either. (none / 0) (#27)
    by oculus on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 10:18:38 PM EST
    Media predictions (none / 0) (#26)
    by waldenpond on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 10:12:54 PM EST
    Who will the media push?  Chuck Todd thinks Sonja Sodemoye(sp) is interesting as this ticks off the box for Hispanic AND female.

    Asian?  Harold Coe?  Elena Kagan (solicitor general-that Arlen Spector doesn't like)

    Rachel asked about Hillary... Todd laughed and said Clinton would have picked Obama.

    This could be fun if I didn't know I was going to be disappointed.

    I don't think it would serve Hillary's (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by nycstray on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 10:50:48 PM EST
    interests to be on the court. Do people really not see that? Or am I blind to something?

    Yeah, I'm a bit concerned we have a pick coming up so soon. I was hoping it would be a bit down the road and he had full rejected playing with the right by then (because they really don't play nice). And other reasons, of course. Here's hoping . . . .


    Oh, Hillary (5.00 / 1) (#46)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 11:24:21 PM EST
    Here we go again.  Didn't we chew this one to death after she conceded the nomination?

    Hillary is not SC material by temperament or talent or inclination.  She'd be good, of course, but there are actually far more superb SC candidates than there are Hillarys out there.  She belongs in the very public sphere, not closeted like a monk arguing fine points of law with the likes of Scalia.


    Maddow is an idiot (5.00 / 1) (#73)
    by jbindc on Fri May 01, 2009 at 08:50:03 AM EST
    She just keeps proving it over and over.  All this comment did was to try and stir things up again - haven't had anything to find fault with HRC lately....

    Sonja Sotomayor (none / 0) (#34)
    by Addison on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 11:00:25 PM EST
    I like her genetic creds... (none / 0) (#51)
    by Thanin on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 11:42:30 PM EST
    but she sounds very centrist.  Anyone know for sure?  Apparently Limbaugh was against her, but I don't know if that really means anything.

    She attended Cardinal Spellman HS (none / 0) (#53)
    by imhotep on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 11:45:27 PM EST
    Is she Roman Catholic?

    How about (none / 0) (#30)
    by Radiowalla on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 10:43:33 PM EST
    Kathleen Sullivan ?

    Ever since she testified against Bork I've been a major fan.

    "Not that there's anything wrong (none / 0) (#57)
    by imhotep on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 11:50:49 PM EST
    with it" but she's a lesbian.  I just can't see an openly gay person being confirmed (or nominated).
    The wing-nuts would have a field day.

    Really? (5.00 / 1) (#71)
    by Militarytracy on Fri May 01, 2009 at 08:39:56 AM EST
    Just like how America isn't ready for a black president :)?  Call me skeptical that this isn't a great time to do new things

    I realize that (none / 0) (#74)
    by Radiowalla on Fri May 01, 2009 at 08:53:19 AM EST
    but I don't think it would matter very much frankly.  But I do believe that her very powerful testimony against Bork would be held against her.  

    That's so 2004... (none / 0) (#76)
    by Addison on Fri May 01, 2009 at 11:10:47 AM EST
    ...in my opinion an openly gay person, at this point in time, would not be overly controversial to the majority of Americans (if he or she was qualified, of course) and -- considering the inevitable overreaction and psychosis the nomination would provoke from the GOP rump -- support for said candidate would grow a la Clinton's approval ratings during the Lewinsky scandal or the Schiavo contretemps.

    When Americans mostly don't care about something, and GOP radicals go crazy, Americans still don't care but are rarely convinced. A gay SCOTUS nomination would fall into that category, IMO.


    Actually, Kagan would be a fabulous choice (none / 0) (#32)
    by andgarden on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 10:54:33 PM EST
    Just confirmed for another job, too, so I think she'd have a fairly easy confirmation.

    Is this something you agree with? (none / 0) (#35)
    by Addison on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 11:04:19 PM EST
    During her confirmation hearing last week, Elena Kagan, the nominee for solicitor general, said that someone suspected of helping finance Al Qaeda should be subject to battlefield law -- indefinite detention without a trial -- even if he were captured in a place like the Philippines rather than in a physical battle zone. [NYT]

    At first blush, no (none / 0) (#37)
    by andgarden on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 11:09:16 PM EST
    But I don't know the law in that area.

    Certainly it doesn't compare to torture supporter Cass Sunstein.


    No, it doesn't... (none / 0) (#42)
    by Addison on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 11:18:41 PM EST
    ...though as regards Sunstein:

    Elena Kagan '86 described him as "the world's pre-eminent legal scholar," one who "challenges our assumptions and changes the way we think about legal issues." Suggesting that Frankfurter was a forbearer of what she called "Sunsteinian Minimalism," Kagan noted that the Justice, who was sometimes accused of being too leftist, brought to the Supreme Court a strong belief in judicial restraint. "He believed more in the institutions of democracy than in the courts," said Kagan. "He also insisted ... on respect for Federalism, for the decisions of state governments."

    So. All that doesn't sound particularly positive. I should note, however, that my point in bringing up Kagan's opinion on the definition of a battlefield (and what you can do to people caught inside or outside of it) -- I don't know the law in depth there either -- seems to be one of the few issue-based blights on her records from a progressive standpoint. It might reduce the number of people advocating for her.

    Obviously her respect for the principles of Sunstein may bring up concerns about her method and theory along those same "political" lines.


    Well, I'm open to being dissuaded (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by andgarden on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 11:21:13 PM EST
    If Obama can match Ginsburg, I'll be happy.

    In my cursory review... (none / 0) (#48)
    by Addison on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 11:34:00 PM EST
    ...back when Ginsburg announced she had cancer I remember liking Sotomayor the best. This is mostly from the political (both in terms of policy and electoral success) standpoint inherent in her person and the more publicized of her cases, not so much an in-depth legal reading of all her opinions.

    Not sure she's liberal enough or young enough (5.00 / 1) (#50)
    by andgarden on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 11:39:21 PM EST
    (Yes, I cringe writing that last part).

    I dunno... (5.00 / 1) (#52)
    by Thanin on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 11:44:16 PM EST
    the age thing just seems practical.  I want someone on there long enough to counter alito.

    Not smart enough imo (none / 0) (#55)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 11:46:17 PM EST
    Summa Cum Laude from Princeton (5.00 / 0) (#69)
    by MsExPat on Fri May 01, 2009 at 05:28:19 AM EST
    isn't smart enough?

    In fact, Sotomayor was the valedictorian of our class (we were classmates). Freshman year she won a special award for having the highest academic rank in the first year. Considering the competition (students who'd come out of America's most elite and expensive prep schools), this was a pretty amazing feat.

    She may be centrist--I don't know anything about her judicial philosophy--but she is a smart, smart cookie.


    Eh, 54 isn't that old... (none / 0) (#56)
    by Addison on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 11:48:03 PM EST
    ...Kagan is 49, only 5 years younger. Although Sotomayor was diagnosed with diabetes as a child (presumably type 1), and that can shorten lifespan. I feel like this is a cold-hearted rationale, though, and given that the lifespan of those diagnosed with type 1 diabetes is ever-approaching a "normal" lifespan I'm not sure it's significant enough to put into the equation.

    Doesn't MTM have type 1? (none / 0) (#62)
    by nycstray on Fri May 01, 2009 at 12:04:35 AM EST
    My grandfather did, into his 70's. My gawd, 54 is "old" if you have diabetes (or not)?!  And that should play into her ability to do the job? One would think we would want the best for however long we could have them. Ahh . . . the things that make my head explode :)

    Maybe we should all consider that whoever is appointed only is in the position for a few years but makes some excellent decisions vs someone who's "alright" and hangs forever, and not always in our best interest?


    You're not going to get ... (none / 0) (#75)
    by jbindc on Fri May 01, 2009 at 08:55:10 AM EST
    ...someone in their 30s.  That would be, what? 10 years out of law school?  I know having no experience is fashionable these days, but the Senate is going to need to see some real body of work - whether that be litigating, as a judge, or as an elected official.

    Luckily there is plenty of time. (none / 0) (#49)
    by Addison on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 11:36:04 PM EST
    Frankfurter (none / 0) (#54)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 11:45:52 PM EST
    was easily one of the worst Supreme Court Justices of the 20th Century.

    Amazing. (none / 0) (#58)
    by Addison on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 11:51:21 PM EST
    It's amazing how when people don't have any belief or confidence in the power of their role they end up doing bad work. Who could have predicted?

    Noy sure if you are agreeing eith me (5.00 / 1) (#60)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 11:57:33 PM EST
    but I think you are and in fact, Frankfurter distaste for the Constitutional role of the Supreme Court was indeed his biggest weakness. Perhaps the New Deal years scarred him.

    But he also had another significant weakness that few will acknowledge, his intellectual wattahe was weak.

    Like Scalia, and Sunstein, Frankfurter's intelligence was extremely overrated.


    Yes, I was agreeing with you... (none / 0) (#63)
    by Addison on Fri May 01, 2009 at 12:05:59 AM EST
    ...the SCOTUS nominee had better have some good things to say about the SCOTUS and its powerful role as a co-equal branch or we don't want them. If they try to downplay the role of judges they apparently either don't want the job or don't understand it.

    Oh, ugh! (none / 0) (#47)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Apr 30, 2009 at 11:25:03 PM EST