May 1, 2009

"Among jurists with whom I have served, Justice David H. Souter is the very best."

"His level of preparation for the cases we consider is astonishing. He works so hard at getting it right. He is a genuinely caring man and a model of civility. Never have I heard him utter a harsh or unkind word. I count it my great good fortune to have known him as a working colleague and dear friend."

The Justices of the Supreme Court give their tributes to Souter. I've quoted Ruth Bader Ginsburg's because it's the nicest. To say he's the very best is daringly disrespectful of all the other judges. And all that business about caring and civility and kindness makes you want to be a better person, doesn't it?

36 comments:

rhhardin said...

Nobody appears to have said ``His retirement leaves a much-needed gap.''

JAL said...

So he was a nice guy. Good.

Is that why I've heard Obama is looking for someone with "empathy" to fill the seat??

Empathy?

E M P A T H Y ?

This is the Supreme Court of the United States of America.

So tell us President Obama, who is supposed to be a lawyer, are there any SCOTUS cases which stick in your mind as distinctly in need of empathy more than needing to be judged in accordance with the Constitution of the United States?

Curtiss said...

I just want to hug David Souter.

Dale said...

Is it a coincidence that Souter announces he's leaving for New Hampshire at the very same time the New Hampshire legislature prepares to legalize gay marriage?


And that line from Ginsburg:He works so hard at getting it right.

Does she feel that way because the two of them always agree? Or is she also very slyly implying that despite his hard work that he often doesn't actually succeed.

NKVD said...

I thought they were talking about Allen Ginsburg. Nevermind...

Cedarford said...

Next to failing to strangle George W. Bush in his crib, I imagine G.H. Bush considers appointing Souter as his biggest mistake.

3rd would probably be "Read my lips.."
With G.H. Bush kicking himself for not thinking to put his grandchildren and greatgrandchildren in hock to China instead of raising taxes..

Dale said...
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Dale said...

Cedarford,

George Herbert Walker Bush wanting to strangle his child?

Wow, your parents have something in common with the first President Bush.

David said...

I'm as good a person as I'm ever going to be, I'm afraid. I don't even really want to be any better, despite clear room for improvement in all areas.

Chip Ahoy said...

I don't care how nice Ginsburg finds Souter. I think it's pure crap for justices to play politics with judicial positions. Just one more crap move in a very long list of crap moves by a crap justice. The certain knowledge he would have held the position if a Republican won the executive branch fills my tender mind with sinister thoughts and reinforces the opinion that party loyalty chupa el lagarto grande.

Joan said...

chupa el lagarto grande.
Does that mean "bites the big one"? My Spanish is minimal.

I'd classify Ginsburg's accolades as sucking up, but I can't see what she stands to gain by doing it, so maybe it's not.

Cedarford said...

Dale said...
Cedarford,
George Herbert Walker Bush wanting to strangle his child?
Wow, your parents have something in common with the first President Bush.
I'm presuming the Elder Bush is a patriot.
Just as I am presuming by the fact that you are writing here that your parents were not eugenicists.

goesh said...

yeh right and his clerks would secretly put those little yellow sticky notes on his back that read "kick me" - I think he was a dawdler myself

Awesome said...

RBG's tribute makes DS sound like a weenie. No surprise there, though. He looks like a weenie too.

Sofa King said...

And all that business about caring and civility and kindness makes you want to be a better person, doesn't it?

It sure does. I can feel that better person inside me, wanting to get out. Struggling to get out. In fact...sort of coming up my throat...gotta run

paul a'barge said...

Why is getting it right such hard work for him?

Eric said...

Getting high praise from Ginsburg is the clearest sign you could get you've taken a wrong turn somewhere.

Bissage said...

I find myself wishing that one of the Justices had described their colleague as a "so-so entertainer, not much of a humanitarian, and this cat weren’t never nobody's friend."

rhhardin said...

Nor has anybody recalled the days when they'd slip cheese under his robe.

knox said...

"We'll all miss Justice Souter's noble acceptance of many noogies and wedgies over the years"

Issob Morocco said...

While not a fan of his decisions at all, I must credit him for retiring when he does (age 69). Too much of our political classes seem to want to suck from the teat of Power until their last breath (Ted Stevens, Ted Kennedy, Orlon Specter, and Squire Byrd for good examples). I believe he will be truly happy in his retirement.

Godspeed!

Jon said...

Question: Was it dishonable for Souter to allow himself to be nominated by GHW Bush, knowing that Bush was doing so under the mistaken impression that he was a conservative?

Should he have alerted Bush to the fact that his judicial philosophy was on the left? Is it plausible that he got through the vetting process without making a conscious effort to conceal his true philosophy?

Cabbage said...

Geeze, Tony Kennedy can't even say goodbye without sounding like a pompous windbag.

traditionalguy said...

I smell the Holistic approach to the governing the USA subsidiary of the World. Every separate thing , like individual person' rights and privately owned things, will only be approached as a Totality under the care of our Totally Loving Brother. Assume your new position, all you individuals claiming ownership "rights". Meet the empathetic Rulers of our Holistic Life on Earth: the Atmosphere we breath...the Pandemic Virus cures for us to stay alive... our momentary illusion of having fiat monetary credits... our belief we are actually voting for the Totally Loving Brother who rules us. After all, there will be a CRISIS every day until the Holistic Government comes to power to save us.

Father Martin Fox said...

Well, there's this:

NPR had a piece on the other day, citing a speech he gave, in which he described each year's court sessions--everything but his own summer time--as a "lobotomy."

And then there's this. As a regular guy, admittedly not a legal scholar, what are his singular contributions or accomplishments on the Court? Is there any notable doctrine? Any line of thought? A major decision?

Off the top of my head...
Ginsberg: use international law
Scalia: originalism
Thomas: another sort of originalism with suspicion of the feds
Kennedy: balance
Souter: Kelo and maybe Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and "he was such a nice guy."

Maybe there's more I'm not remembering.

William said...

I just know the bare facts of Souter's life, but he seems decent, sane, and grounded. I admire the fact that he thinks there are more worthy and rewarding pursuits than pontificating in Washington. Also, as Issob points out, he choose to retire at an age when it is still possible to recognize one's limits. If you think he was too liberal, just wait till you see his replacement.....I know there are many cases where Republicans appoint closet liberals to the Court. Are there any cases where Democrats have appointed conservatives by miscalculation?

Jeffrey said...

One answer to William's question: in 1914, Woodrow Wilson nominated James Clark McReynolds, a vicious, reactionary Jew-baiting bastard. And that's the best that could be said about him.

Kansas City said...

I thought Souter was too strange and knee jerk liberal to be a good supreme court judge, and it is remarkable that Bush I made such a mistake on an issue of great importance that was not that hard to get right (see Bush II); however, I have a few things to say about Souter and a question:

1. He had the good sense and grace to retire at 69 rather than hang on like virtually every other person in a powerful Washington job (it does stink a bit that the supposedly apolitical Souter seems to have waited for a liberal democrat to be president);

2. I had one occasion to see him up close at oral argument and he was pretty impressive, both intellectually and in his presentation -- confident strong voice.

3. He was a very significant justice, not because of any inidividual legal thought or contribution, but because he was a reliable vote for liberals and, thus, every 5 to 4 liberal decision during his 20 years is the result of his presence.

4. Is it generally thought that he is gay? I don't care about that in terms of his performance as a justice, but he seems to have a gay profile and, if you read the commnets of Justice Ginsburg, it is the type of comment that women sometimes make regarding a gay male. It also is interesting that the MSM basically has left Souter alone despite his unusual lifestyle, presumably because he was liberal.

Jeanine said...

Khelo will hang over Souters head until he does a lonely old man with a book in his hand and a bulldozer bringing down his blighted house.

SukieTawdry said...

What a shame, all that hard work and yet he so seldom does get it right.

somefeller said...

To say he's the very best is daringly disrespectful of all the other judges.I don't think that's true. To say he's the best isn't disrespectful, if the context is that one has worked with many great people, but this particular person is the best on some particular scale. Plus, the rest of her quote sounds more like she was saying "Souter, he's the best" in more of a social and friendly way than as some implicit criticism of the other Justices.

Eric said...

To say he's the best isn't disrespectful, if the context is that one has worked with many great people, but this particular person is the best on some particular scale.

I couldn't disagree more with this. There's a big difference between praising and ranking. When you rank people it's an insult to the people not in the top slot.

Eric said...

Am I the only one here happy with Kelo? As a fan of federalism I'm almost always happy to see the court rule "this is a state matter."

Iapetus said...

Ginsburg's statement reminds me of the insincere letter of recommendation that a faculty adviser writes on behalf of his worst student. Anyone reading it immediately puts it on the bottom of the pile where it never sees the light of day. It's the Letter of Faint Praise.

Icepick said...
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Icepick said...

And all that business about caring and civility and kindness makes you want to be a better person, doesn't it?Fuck that noise.