ILNews

Reports: Justice to retire; speculation begins

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrint

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

ADVERTISEMENT