|Current Court Information:|
|Supreme Court of the United States|
|Appointed by:||George H.W. Bush|
|Senior:||6/30/2009 - Present|
|Preceded by:||William Brennan|
|Succeeded by:||Sonia Sotomayor|
|Past post:||First Circuit|
|Past position:||Seat #2|
|Past post 2:||Supreme Court of New Hampshire|
|Past term 2:||1983-1990|
|Born:||September 17, 1939|
|Undergraduate:|| Harvard, 1961|
Magdalen College, Oxford, 1963
|Law School:||Harvard Law, 1966|
|Grad. School:||Magdalen College, Oxford, 1963|
David Hackett Souter was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1990 until 2009. He filled the seat vacated by Justice William Brennan. He was nominated to the Court by Republican President George H. W. Bush on January 24, 1990, and received his commission on October 3, 1990.
Justice Souter retired from the court on June 30, 2009, at the end of the 2008-09 term. Souter's retirement created the first opening for President Obama to make an appointment to the Supreme Court.
Early life and education
Souter was born in Melrose, Massachusetts. He went on to Harvard College, from which he received his A.B., concentrating in philosophy and writing a senior thesis on the legal positivism of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. In 1961, Souter graduated from Harvard magna cum laude as a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He was selected as a Rhodes Scholar and earned an M.A. from Magdalen College, Oxford, in 1963. He then entered Harvard Law School, graduating in 1966.
Souter worked as an associate at Orr & Reno in Concord, New Hampshire from 1966 to 1968. He accepted a position as an Assistant Attorney General of New Hampshire in 1968, beginning his lifelong career in public service. As assistant attorney general he worked in the criminal division, prosecuting cases in the courts. In 1971, Warren Rudman, then the Attorney General of New Hampshire, selected him to be the Deputy Attorney General. Rudman resigned to enter private practice in 1976, and Souter succeeded him as the Attorney General of New Hampshire.
State judicial career
Supreme Court of New Hampshire
Federal judicial career
Souter received a commission to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit on April 30, 1990, nominated by George H. W. Bush on January 24, 1990. He was appointed to fill the vacancy left by Hugh Bownes. His vacancy was filled by Norman Stahl.
Warren Rudman, later elected a Senator, and former New Hampshire governor John Sununu — then chief of staff to President George H. W. Bush — were instrumental in both Souter's nomination and confirmation to the Supreme Court. Prior to Sununu's recommendation, few observers outside of New Hampshire knew who Souter was, although he had been mentioned by The New York Times as one of Reagan's four top nominees for the Supreme Court slot that eventually went to Anthony Kennedy. Rudman had recommended Souter to Reagan's chief of staff Howard Baker for both a federal judgeship and the Supreme Court.
Bush originally wanted to appoint Clarence Thomas to Brennan's seat, but ultimately decided that Thomas had not yet had enough experience as a federal judge and decided to recommend Souter for the post instead. President Bush nominated Souter as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on July 25, 1990, and Souter took his seat on October 9, 1990, shortly after the United States Senate confirmed him by a vote of 90-9 after the Senate Judiciary Committee reported out the nomination by a vote of 14-3.
The nine senators voting against Souter included Ted Kennedy and John Kerry from Souter's neighboring state of Massachusetts. These senators, along with seven others, painted Souter as a right-winger in the mold of Robert Bork. They based their claim on the fact that Souter had friendships with many conservative politicians in New Hampshire. Their allegations failed to influence the other 90 senators due to the fact that the press called him the "stealth justice" and showed that his professional record provoked little real controversy and provided very little paper trail. Lack of a paper trail was seen by President Bush as a positive for Souter, because President Reagan's nominee, Bork, had been rejected by the Senate due to the availability of his extensive written opinions on issues.
Bush claimed that he didn't know Souter's stances on abortion, affirmative action, or other issues. The National Organization for Women opposed Souter's nomination and held a rally outside the hearings to oppose his selection. The then-president of NOW, Molly Yard, testified that Souter would "end... freedom for women in this country." Souter was also opposed by the NAACP, which urged its 500,000 members to write letters to their Senators asking for Souter's defeat. Despite this opposition and largely due to his lack of a paper trail, Souter won an easy confirmation compared to later Republican appointees.
Souter spoke admiringly of the conservative Justice John Marshall Harlan of the Warren Court during his confirmation hearings. The Wall Street Journal described the events leading up to the appointment of the "liberal jurist" in a 2000 editorial, saying Rudman in his "Yankee Republican liberalism" took "pride in recounting how he sold Mr. Souter to gullible White House chief of staff John Sununu as a confirm-able conservative. Then they both sold the judge to President Bush, who wanted above all else to avoid a confirmation battle." Rudman wrote in his memoir that he had "suspected all along" that Souter would not "overturn activist liberal precedents." Sununu later said that he had "a lot of disappointment" about Souter's positions on the Court and would have preferred him to be more similar to Justice Antonin Scalia.
After Souter was sworn in, he said: "The first lesson, simple as it is, is that whatever court we're in, whatever we are doing, at the end of our task some human being is going to be affected. Some human life is going to be changed by what we do. And so we had better use every power of our minds and our hearts and our beings to get those rulings right."
He left the court on June 30, 2009 and his vacancy was filled by Sonia Sotomayor.
- Legal profiles:
- Financial information:
- Issue positions:
- Works by or about:
- Media appearances:
- Media coverage:
- Associated Press "Justice Souter may be retired, but he still works," May 27, 2010
- Souter Returns to the Granite State, The National Law Journal, August 17, 2009
- Souter Biography from the Federal Judicial Center
- New York Times, "Souter Says He Will Leave Supreme Court in June," May 1, 2009
- David Hackett Souter: Traditional Republican on the Rehnquist Court, Yarbrough, Tinsley, Oxford University Press, 2005
- The New York Times, "Souter Anchoring the Court's New Center," July 3, 1992
- ABC News, "Clarence Thomas: A Silent Justice Speaks Out"
- About.com, "US Supreme Court"
- National Review, "Empty Souter"
- Washington Post, "For Liberals, Easy Does It With Roberts," September 18, 2005
- The New York Times, "N.A.A.C.P. Urges Souter's Defeat," September 22, 1990
- Wall Street Journal, "Chief Justice Souter?" February 29, 2000
Portions of this article were taken from Wikipedia under the GNU license.
|Federal judicial offices|
|Former chief justices||White|
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|Former judges||Stephen Breyer • David Souter • Hugh Bownes • Benjamin Bourne • John A. Lowell • Jeremiah Smith • John Lowell • George Foster Shepley • LeBaron Bradford Colt • William LeBaron Putnam • Francis Cabot Lowell • Frederic Dodge • James Madison Morton • William Schofield • George Weston Anderson • George Hutchins Bingham • Charles Fletcher Johnson • Scott Wilson (Maine) • John Christopher Mahoney • Calvert Magruder • Bailey Aldrich • John Patrick Hartigan • Frank Coffin • Edward McEntee • Peter Woodbury •|
|Former Chief judges|