United States Supreme Court Justice David Souter is retiring:


I will, here and now on this Island, thank him for his service to the country. I like David Souter, because in the face of extreme criticism, he remained an individualist and a free-thinker. He was never cowed or coerced by anyone about anything. At that level of politics,it is almost impossible to find someone without a very strong agenda, who remains open-minded and can carefully examine core issues. David Souter was that, by character or tenacity or both.

Was he also a bit of an odd cat? Well, yes. But again, that isn't really strange when you look at the top of any field, the whole "thin line between" argument. I mean, there's Scalia, ferchrissakes. Whatever it is that made him different, was also the thing that freed him to have the ability to rise above the pettiness and pressure, and to have rare clarity of thought.

I didn't agree with all his decisions, but I respected that he put everything he had into each one of them, and didn't play the Washington game. Although, in seeing that he waited to retire until Obama passed his first 100 days in office and then promptly did so, it seems perhaps a little bit of a raspberry to those highly-placed folks who disrespected the heart of our democracy and used it for the worst personal purposes.

It will be very interesting to see who Obama will nominate to take his place. Of course, there is always a short list running of probable candidates for the Supreme Court -- Ginsburg is ill and Stevens is simply ancient -- so the face of the court will change dramatically over this administration. I hope that there are more people out there like David Souter, independent of foolish partisan politics and willing to believe, still, in the strength and decent intent within of our system of justice.

David Souter, 1990:

"What we try to do is pass it on, to make the gifts and kindnesses that come to us the kind of human currency that goes on traveling," he said. "I will try to preserve it, transmit it, I hope refreshed, to another generation of the American republic, which is the inheritance of us all."