Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Did Specter Switch Parties Over Souter?

I'm going to start a rumor, but I think there is real truth to it. Word comes today that Justice Souter is going to retire. Apparently at least one law blog noted that David Souter had not hired law clerks for next year, which normally is done about this time. I think Specter knew this was going to happen and knew that he either have to join a GOP filibuster of Obama's (pro-choice) nominee or lose his party's nomination, right then. Either way would likely cost him the seat in Pennsylvania. Now he can safely vote for cloture. The pressure is off. Moreover, by giving the Democrats a filibuster proof majority, he prevents the first ever judicial filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee and the potential nuclear threat revival from some years ago. Specter is known to value the traditions of the Senate.

Justice Souter will be missed. He is sometimes said behind closed doors to be the first gay justice. We don't know, of course, but we know that he was a voice for tolerance in a court that, under Burger and Rehnquist, was quite intolerant. His replacement will bring not just a tolerant and moderate voice, but a genuine progressive voice to the Court. There will be much more to say about Souter in the future. Suffice it here to say that he was the most dismayed of all over Bush v. Gore. He was a true believer in the rule of law.


Raised By Republicans said...

I've heard from pundits on radio and TV that Specter's switch was orchestrated in large part by Biden (who rides the train with Specter a lot) and Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell (D). I've also heard that Rendell's wife, Marjorie (currently a judge on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals) is likely on the short list to replace the next Justice to leave. At the time the speculation was about Ginsburg, who has been ill recently. But this makes sense too.

But it doesn't have to be Rendell's wife for Souter. It is likely that Obama (even if he only has one term) will get to appoint two or three justices.

The Law Talking Guy said...

I doubt Obama will nominate Rendell's wife, for the very reason that it smacks of corruption, even if she is qualified.

Janet Napolitano had previously been thought of as a likely nominee (fitting that O'Connor was also an Arizonan). Perhaps she will remain at DHS.