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Reports: Justice to retire; speculation begins

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Reports broke late Thursday that a Supreme Court of the United States justice plans to retire from the bench but which justice may surprise some. Justice David Hackett Souter has decided to leave the bench following the current SCOTUS term, according to national news outlets. His retirement was confirmed this afternoon in a SCOTUS press release.

Valparaiso University School of Law professor Ivan Bodensteiner said he wasn't surprised by the reports Justice Souter may be the first to leave the nation's highest court during President Barack Obama's administration. While many expected Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who recently underwent surgery for pancreatic cancer, or Justice John Paul Stevens, who is 89, to leave the bench first, Bodensteiner said there have been stories for sometime that Justice Souter doesn't like Washington, D.C., and was ready to return to New Hampshire.

Justice Souter sat on the Superior and Supreme Courts of New Hampshire prior to being appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court by President George H.W. Bush in 1990. Following his appointment to the Supreme Court, some began to view Justice Souter as a disappointment because he aligned more with the "liberals" of the court, said Bodensteiner.

The assumption was he would be a reliable conservative, although no one knew much about him when he took the bench, said Indiana University Maurer School of Law - Bloomington professor Charles Geyh. He established himself as a moderating influence on the court, and now appears more liberal than moderate because of the court's progressive shift to the right during the last generation. Geyh said he was surprised to learn of Justice Souter's retirement but thinks his leaving could set a good precedent for the court.

"If the reason he is retiring is because he's reached reasonable retirement age and thinks it's a good idea to leave when you reach a certain age, then it could set a good precedent," he said.

Sometimes justices may retain their spot on the bench longer than they should, and it's good to get new blood on the court. Geyh finds it interesting Justice Souter may view his time on the bench like many other Americans view their jobs and think when they reach a certain age, it's simply time to retire.

Both Bodensteiner and Geyh don't think Justice Souter's replacement will shift the ideological power of the court because President Obama will most likely pick someone who is also considered a liberal. However, Bodensteiner cautioned that we can't predict how a future justice may vote was on the bench, as proven by Justice Souter's voting record. Previous news reports and blogs have mentioned several potential candidates for vacant U.S. Supreme Court spots, including 7th Circuit Court of Appeal Judge Diane P. Wood.

Neither professor could offer specific names as possible replacements for the justice, but Geyh said he wouldn't be surprised if a woman is selected. Whoever Obama selects, Geyh expects the Republicans will try to say the candidate is a liberal and challenge the nominee.

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  1. Falk said “At this point, at this minute, we’ll savor this particular victory.” “It certainly is a historic week on this front,” Cockrum said. “What a delight ... “Happy Independence Day to the women of the state of Indiana,” WOW. So we broke with England for the right to "off" our preborn progeny at will, and allow the processing plant doing the dirty deeds (dirt cheap) to profit on the marketing of those "products of conception." I was completely maleducated on our nation's founding, it would seem. (But I know the ACLU is hard at work to remedy that, too.)

  2. congratulations on such balanced journalism; I also love how fetus disposal affects women's health protection, as covered by Roe...

  3. It truly sickens me every time a case is compared to mine. The Indiana Supreme Court upheld my convictions based on a finding of “hidden threats.” The term “hidden threat” never appeared until the opinion in Brewington so I had no way of knowing I was on trial for making hidden threats because Dearborn County Prosecutor F Aaron Negangard argued the First Amendment didn't protect lies. Negangard convened a grand jury to investigate me for making “over the top” and “unsubstantiated” statements about court officials, not hidden threats of violence. My indictments and convictions were so vague, the Indiana Court of Appeals made no mention of hidden threats when they upheld my convictions. Despite my public defender’s closing arguments stating he was unsure of exactly what conduct the prosecution deemed to be unlawful, Rush found that my lawyer’s trial strategy waived my right to the fundamental error of being tried for criminal defamation because my lawyer employed a strategy that attempted to take advantage of Negangard's unconstitutional criminal defamation prosecution against me. Rush’s opinion stated the prosecution argued two grounds for conviction one constitutional and one not, however the constitutional true threat “argument” consistently of only a blanket reading of subsection 1 of the intimidation statute during closing arguments, making it impossible to build any kind of defense. Of course intent was impossible for my attorney to argue because my attorney, Rush County Chief Public Defender Bryan Barrett refused to meet with me prior to trial. The record is littered with examples of where I made my concerns known to the trial judge that I didn’t know the charges against me, I did not have access to evidence, all while my public defender refused to meet with me. Special Judge Brian Hill, from Rush Superior Court, refused to address the issue with my public defender and marched me to trial without access to evidence or an understanding of the indictments against me. Just recently the Indiana Public Access Counselor found that four over four years Judge Hill has erroneously denied access to the grand jury audio from my case, the most likely reason being the transcription of the grand jury proceedings omitted portions of the official audio record. The bottom line is any intimidation case involves an action or statement that is debatably a threat of physical violence. There were no such statements in my case. The Indiana Supreme Court took partial statements I made over a period of 41 months and literally connected them with dots… to give the appearance that the statements were made within the same timeframe and then claimed a person similarly situated would find the statements intimidating while intentionally leaving out surrounding contextual factors. Even holding the similarly situated test was to be used in my case, the prosecution argued that the only intent of my public writings was to subject the “victims” to ridicule and hatred so a similarly situated jury instruction wouldn't even have applied in my case. Chief Justice Rush wrote the opinion while Rush continued to sit on a committee with one of the alleged victims in my trial and one of the judges in my divorce, just as she'd done for the previous 7+ years. All of this information, including the recent PAC opinion against the Dearborn Superior Court II can be found on my blog www.danbrewington.blogspot.com.

  4. On a related note, I offered the ICLU my cases against the BLE repeatedly, and sought their amici aid repeatedly as well. Crickets. Usually not even a response. I am guessing they do not do allegations of anti-Christian bias? No matter how glaring? I have posted on other links the amicus brief that did get filed (search this ezine, e.g., Kansas attorney), read the Thomas More Society brief to note what the ACLU ran from like vampires from garlic. An Examiner pledged to advance diversity and inclusion came right out on the record and demanded that I choose Man's law or God's law. I wonder, had I been asked to swear off Allah ... what result then, ICLU? Had I been found of bad character and fitness for advocating sexual deviance, what result then ICLU? Had I been lifetime banned for posting left of center statements denigrating the US Constitution, what result ICLU? Hey, we all know don't we? Rather Biased.

  5. It was mentioned in the article that there have been numerous CLE events to train attorneys on e-filing. I would like someone to provide a list of those events, because I have not seen any such events in east central Indiana, and since Hamilton County is one of the counties where e-filing is mandatory, one would expect some instruction in this area. Come on, people, give some instruction, not just applause!

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