Souter to retire in June?

The rumors began yesterday afternoon and Nina Totenberg of NPR has confirmed them; Justice David Souter will retire at the end of this year's docket:

NPR has learned that Supreme Court Justice David Souter is planning to retire at the end of the current court term.

The vacancy will give President Obama his first chance to name a member of the high court and begin to shape its future direction.

At 69, Souter is nowhere near the oldest member of the court. In fact, he is in the younger half of the court's age range, with five justices older and just three younger. So far as anyone knows, he is in good health. But he has made clear to friends for some time that he wanted to leave Washington, a city he has never liked, and return to his native New Hampshire. Now, according to reliable sources, he has decided to take the plunge and has informed the White House of his decision.

And so, it begins. The transformative president will now have the opportunity - if he serves two terms - to probably name at least 3 and perhaps as many as 6 members of the Supreme Court. The conservatives will do everything they can to wait him out but time is working against them.

I wonder if the New York Times will be writing editorials pointing out the importance of "balance" on the court?

Allahpundit at Hot Air calls Souter "Bush I's worst mistake." Few conservatives would disagree:

I wonder if he saved this as some sort of "100 days" gift to The One or whether he waited until the Democrats were on the brink of a filibuster-proof majority, just to make extra sure the GOP was powerless to stop his replacement. Whichever it is, needless to say, we're at Obama's mercy. The pick will almost certainly be a woman - at 48, Elena Kagan is young and the frontrunner as Solicitor General although Sonia Sotomayor's name has been kicked around too - but beyond that, the sky's the limit. The only "good" news is that Souter was one of the most reliably liberal votes on the Court. Barry O would have to appoint an out-and-out socialist, practically, to tilt it further left.

Someone go to the National Archives and very carefully take the Constitution and put it in a safe place so that after a while, when a president names justices who don't believe that foreign law should be imported like we import Swiss chocolate, it will come to life again.

Clarice Feldman writes: Justice Lawrence Tribe?