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May 1, 2009

Souter, short list speculations and sentencing spins

As detailed in this CNN article, Associate Justice David Souter has now officially announced that he will retire from the Supreme Court.  As we come to expect, SCOTUSblog is a great resource on this story, and it has this post noting some early comments from President Obama: 

On the selection of a replacement, President Obama said he will seek someone with a “sharp and independent mind, and a record of excellence and integrity… someone who understands justice is not about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a casebook, it is also about how our laws affect the daily realities of peoples’ lives. Whether they can make a living, and care for their families, whether they feel safe in their homes and welcome in their own nation.” He said he views “that quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with people’s hopes and struggles as an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes.”

He will “seek someone who is dedicated to the rule of law, who honors our constitutional traditions, who respects the integrity of the judicial process and the appropriate limits of the judicial role…who shares [his] respect for the constitutional values for which this nation was founded and who brings a thoughtful understanding for how to apply them in our time.”

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs ... said that President Obama hopes to have a nominee selected “well before the end of July” as Congress will be “out of Washington” for August.

Meanwhile, the short list speculating game is already in full gear (see, e.g., CNN here, Huff Post here).  As I have noted in lost of prior posts in conjunction with other recent openings, any change in Justices can impact the various still evolving balances in still evolving sentencing jurisprudence.  And, whomever the President selects, I am hoping the new Justice is willing and able to bring some fresh thinking and perhaps some new ideas to the sentencing table.

Some prior posts on SCOTUS personnel and Obama judicial appointments:

May 1, 2009 at 04:25 PM | Permalink


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Well, I can't think of anyone who fits all of that criteria. Jesus? God? I guess maybe one of them.

I certainly appreciate the sentiment on Obama's part but whenever I read such tripe I just shake my head. Eventually some of those different aspects come into conflict with one another; the question then becomes which one does the person value more.

"who respects the integrity of the judicial process and the appropriate limits of the judicial role"

Right. So that means Edith Jones is on the short list?

Posted by: Daniel | May 1, 2009 7:45:24 PM

No lawyer is qualified to sit on the Supreme Court. They are all cult criminals who will only look out for the interests of the criminal cult. A Constitutional Amendment should exclude the lawyer from all benches, all legislative seats, and all responsible policy positions in the executive.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | May 1, 2009 8:09:40 PM

I read Souter's resignation letter here.


If I understand aright, he is not actually retiring as a judge, merely retiring as an active judge on the Supreme Court. Is that typical? I don't recall other recent retirements doing so but I haven't honestly been paying much attention. Does anyone have a clue as to what his public profile will be now? Many of the news articles make it sound like he is fleeing to the hinterlands because he hates Washington. But his letter conveys an entirely different impression, at least to this inexpert eye.

Posted by: Daniel | May 1, 2009 8:40:04 PM

To Daniel: Sandra Day O'Connor actively sits as some sort of "Senior" judge on appellate courts around the country. I do not know the details of how this works.

Posted by: mpb | May 2, 2009 4:33:19 AM

I also believe in the Immutable Law of Hilarious Political Irony. It states, whatever the goal of a decision, you will get its opposite.

So, if one wants to get harsh with criminal sentencing, find an extreme left winger. Find someone who is against prisons at all, someone who believes in the underestimated, little known goal of the criminal law, to show the criminal some love. Ask, the candidate, did you once state in an SSRN article, criminals need a hug? Then immediately confirm the lady, if she answers, yes.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | May 2, 2009 5:15:01 AM

One sicko puppy potentially headed to Souter seat.


Posted by: Supremacy Claus | May 2, 2009 10:10:10 PM

Isn't Obama's principles what we would expect from all our Supreme Court Judges? Obama and I can fantasize all we want. By applying these standards half of the laws in this country would be abolished and probably should be! In the real world and in layman terms this book can be very helpful. Their are many but's, sorta's and gray area's in our laws, Good luck! The Criminal Law Handbook Know Your Rights, Survive the System by Attorney Paul Bergman & Attorney Sara J.

Posted by: | May 3, 2009 2:05:59 AM

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