President Obama On David Souter And His Coming SCOTUS Decision

President Obama surprised Robert Gibbs by replacing him at the podium a few minutes ago to make a statement himself regarding Justice Souter's decision to step down and what his process will be for choosing a replacement. Here's what he said:

The process of picking someone to replace Justice Souter is among my most serious responsibilities as President. I will seek somebody with a sharp and independent mind and a record of excellence and integrity. I will seek someone that understands that justice isn't about some abstract legal theory or a footnote in a casebook, it is also how our laws affect the daily realities of people's lives, whether they can make a living and care for their families, whether they feel safe in their homes and welcomed in their own nation. I view 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. I will seek somebody 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. I will seek somebody who shares my respect for constitutional values on which this nation was founded and who brings a thoughtful understanding of how to apply them in our time. As I make this decision, I intend to consult with members of both parties across the political spectrum and it is my hope that we can swear in our new Supreme Court justice in time for him or her to be seated by the first Monday in October when the court's new term begins.

A couple things to take away from this statement. First is the progressive frame advanced in the statement that justice comes out of empathy. Second is Obama's pledge to seek someone "who brings a thoughtful understanding of how to apply [constitutional values] in our time." In other words, the president wants someone who sees the constitution as a living breathing organism. All good.

Tags: David Souter, President Obama, SCOTUS (all tags)

Comments

19 Comments

Re: President Obama On David Souter And His Coming

I hear the guns of the strict constructions on the right cocking already.

by jsfox 2009-05-01 11:39AM | 0 recs
Then start chanting with me...

Up or down vote! Up or down vote! Up or down vote!Up or down vote! Up or down vote! Up or down vote!Up or down vote! Up or down vote! Up or down vote!Up or down vote! Up or down vote! Up or down vote!Up or down vote! Up or down vote!  

by WashStateBlue 2009-05-01 12:07PM | 0 recs
OK

Up or down vote! Up or down vote! Up or down vote!Up or down vote! Up or down vote! Up or down vote!Up or down vote! Up or down vote! Up or down vote!Up or down vote! Up or down vote! Up or down vote!Up or down vote! Up or down vote!  

by jsfox 2009-05-01 12:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Then start chanting with me...

ok, this was funny

by rikyrah 2009-05-01 02:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Statement

I like his statement a lot. I will wait to see who he chooses, but this is a good start. I absolutely agree that a core problem is that we justice based on real life rather than legal theory alone.

by bruh3 2009-05-01 12:00PM | 0 recs
What is interesting is, I think Obama gets maybe

4 turns at the table here.

I am not sure that Scalia OR Thomas makes it through to 2016...My guess is, one of the two don't

So, where are all those that kept saying "Scotus was a false issue" when they were backing Palin.

McCain/Palin MIGHT have had a shot at Ginsburg, John Paul Stevens (may he live to be 120!) AND Souter.

He could have claimed, SOUTER, appointed by a Republican, WAS INTENTED TO BE A CONSERVATIVE PICK and nominated Alito ver 2!

Elections have consequences, yeah BABY!

by WashStateBlue 2009-05-01 12:20PM | 0 recs
Re: What is interesting is, I think

Boy that would be AWESOME if Scalia or Thomas doesn't make it through to 2016.   I'm also hoping Kennedy goes as well... It would be nice to if we could replace Stevens, Ginsburg, Souter, Kennedy and Thomas/Scalia by one Dem President with Early 50's choices.  

by 30000Fine 2009-05-01 01:14PM | 0 recs
Supreme Court Nominee

I think that b/c this is for Stevens replacement Obama will get is nominee confirmed by October.  However, if this was for Scalia's or Thomas' replacement look out.  The repugs will probably shut down all of Congress over those nominees.

By the way, happy International Workers Day:
http://yellingatthemoon.com/2009/05/01/i tsinternationalworkersday.aspx

by MattYellingAtTheMoon 2009-05-01 12:23PM | 0 recs
Re: Supreme Court Nominee

With the Democrats effectively controlling 60 seats in the Senate, I don't think anybody that Obama would conceivably appoint can be stopped.  None of the dozens of names floating around are so radical that 41 people would hold a vote, IMHO.  The only issue for Obama is whether a big fight will cost him capital that he prefers to use elsewhere.  That might be one reason to make a safe (albeit also good) choice, such as Sotomayor.

by markjay 2009-05-01 12:30PM | 0 recs
Well, I have to disagree just a bit...

First, I DO think Obama WILL have a shot at replacing either Thomas or Scalia.

And, I tend to agree with the other poster, if Obama does not put in a conservative, I think anything we have seen so far from the Republicans would look like fellowship and acclimation by comparison.

There IS one victory the RR feels they got from Bush, and the Republican Presidents before him: the court is now basically center right, with Kennedy staying SO FAR centerist on Abortion, but, in aggregate, voting with the right.

You suddenly suggest replacing Scalia or Thomas with a liberal and change it to a 5/4 liberal balance, and there is NO ends or means the Republicans won't go to stop it.

Now, my only caveat on that is, by 2015, things may have changed.

But, right now, with the slavish devotion to the base of the current crop of Republicans, the base would string them up by their ankles...

Plus, one more statement.

I am not sure Evan Bayh and his conserva-dems ALSO don't argue for keeping the court balanced?

That if a conservative steps down, Obama HAS to appoint a like-minded judge.

That's utter BS, but more then 1/2 of what Bayh says is anyway.

by WashStateBlue 2009-05-01 12:42PM | 0 recs
Re: Well, I have to disagree just a bit...

That would not fly.  The comeback to that would be, simply, that 7 of the 9 judges were appointed by Republican presidents, and that the SC is currently lopsided conservative, therefore, given Obama's re-election (if that comes about) it is time to tilt the court in our direction for a change.

Any liberal judge will win confirmation easily, given the makeup of the Senate and the fact that at least 20 Republicans would break ranks with their base on something as important as a SC appointment. That is unless the nominee is completely unacceptable even to moderates, which is doubtful to be a selection in the first place.  

by devilrays 2009-05-01 04:04PM | 0 recs
Which Republican party are you talking about?

20 Would break rank?

Really, you've got to be kidding?

Tell me this is really the concept we are talking about.

Antonin Scalia, in 2014, because of health, announces he is stepping down.

Obama nominates a liberal judge to replace the Conservative Judge that, besides Ronald Reagan, is THE most beloved name in modern conservatism.

And, you are think 20 Republican Senators say OK?

Wow, I am optomistic at tims, but that is going some.

by WashStateBlue 2009-05-01 05:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Which Republican party are you talking about?

I think twenty is a stretch. But if the replacement named in this scenario was center-left with some progressive values and the Senate looks like it does today it would be very hard for the Republicans to block the nomination.

In fact I would be more woried about the conservadems then the Republicans in that scenario. One way to circumvent this would be to name a sitting Senator...although without consulting their bios I don't know who is qualified right off the top of my head.

by JDF 2009-05-02 11:33AM | 0 recs
Re:

A candidate who is not obviously tainted with some nanny scandal or (god beware this time) not paying their income taxes for years and who has a strong judicial record or something similar can be expected to sail through, with the party of NO making the appropriate background noise, of course.  At the end of the day a Supreme Court justice appointment is a different animal from pushing through bills or a budget. Expect many of the Republicans to break ranks (as many as 20, but 15 at minimum.)  No, I don't have much optimism when it comes to the GOP, but this is not about "optimism" or their good hearts. They will be looking to look statesmanly in regards to the SC justice appointment.  Again, that is UNLESS the candidate is severely damaged by some revelation and popular opinion has turned strongly against that person.  

by devilrays 2009-05-04 09:11AM | 0 recs
Please, I would be thrilled...

"As word of Souter's retirement spread, conservative groups seemed to be laying the groundwork for a fight.

"Obama's own record and rhetoric make clear that he will seek left-wing judicial activists who will indulge their passions, not justices who will make their rulings with dispassion," said Ed Whelan, president of the conservative Ethics and Public Policy Center.

A passion for equality and justice for all, not just for the rich, the powerful, the corporations?

We should be so lucky...

by WashStateBlue 2009-05-01 02:15PM | 0 recs
Surprise: David Brooks lies on NPR

I was listening to NPR (against my better judgement) and on the He said/She said with Brooks and EJ Dionne they played this part of the statement:

"I will seek someone that understands that justice isn't about some abstract legal theory or a footnote in a casebook, it is also how our laws affect the daily realities of people's lives, whether they can make a living and care for their families, whether they feel safe in their homes and welcomed in their own nation"

David Brooks then said he wished Obama has said something about the constitution.   Of course leaving out:

"I will seek somebody who shares my respect for constitutional values on which this nation was founded and who brings a thoughtful understanding of how to apply them in our time."

The moral is whenever you hear David Brooks say something, if someone wants to bet he is lying, get odds if you take the bet.

by msobel 2009-05-01 04:10PM | 0 recs
Re: President Obama

It will be a women conciliator because to woo Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins to get past 60 he would appoint a women. Anyways he can make a base pick when Stevens retire before 2012 which I will, by the time he reaches age 93 health or not.

by olawakandi 2009-05-02 07:00AM | 0 recs
Yes.....

Spector, Snowe and Collins would all vote Yea on Sotomayor....

And, when Steven's goes (may he live to be 120!) then Obama should absolutely go liberal, HARD liberal...

Come on, they put FRICKING THOMAS AND SCALIA on there, we need ONE out-right pedal to the metal Liberal Voice on the court...

by WashStateBlue 2009-05-02 03:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Yes.....

Finally we will get cameras in the court room to see what that Thomas is up to.

by olawakandi 2009-05-04 08:33AM | 0 recs

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