Well, I can’t say I’m super surprised. The rumors have been flying for days that Justice David Souter would retire and now it’s official.
This is probably not a huge issue, actually. Souter has been fairly liberal on most things since President Bush (the Elder) appointed him and he turned sharply left of what anyone (including Bush) expected.
I can recall arguments in college with Democratic friends who fretted that they thought Souter was an “enemy of women.” Women’s rights groups have had few better advocates on the High Court than Souter. He was a dream come true for them. This was one of my first lessons in turning a critical eye towards political propaganda.
I’ve no real sense for who Obama will nominate to replace Justice Souter. We can expect someone fairly liberal, of course. There is a lot of talk that the appointment should be a woman. I agree that in this day and age, it’s kind of retrograde to see a Supreme Court with only one woman on it. But at the same time, the gender, or race, of the jurist is much less important than their intellectual qualifications to handle the deeply complex and challenging issues of Constitutional law which are the Supreme Court’s primary job.