Souter is expected to remain on the bench until a successor has been chosen and confirmed, which may or may not be accomplished before the court reconvenes in October.
Arlen Specter’s switch from Republican to Democrat looms even larger now.
We’ve reached out to the SCOTUS public information officer, but have not yet received comment. (We’re not surprised, though, since we reached out at 10:25 p.m.)
Update (11:47 p.m.): The PIO got back to us:
Justice Souter has no comment.
If true, Souter’s retirement would do little to change the balance of the court. Remember:
An Obama pick would be unlikely to change the ideological makeup of the court. Souter, though appointed by the first President Bush, generally votes with the more liberal members of the court, a group of four that is in a rather consistent minority.
Souter’s retirement is not entirely surprising to regular Above the Law readers. Earlier this month, we — via Underneath Their Robes — told you that Souter hadn’t hired any clerks for the October 2009 term.
Let the jockeying begin for Obama’s first SCOTUS nomination. We invite you to suggest nominees in the comments. Maybe we’ll do a poll…
Update: The BLT has an early line on possible nominees, after the jump.
Here’s the chatter from Tony Mauro at The BLT about possible nominees:
[M]ost of the names that have been mentioned as possible Obama nominees do have judicial or academic experience. Some of those names:
– Sonia Sotomayor, a Hispanic female who sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.
– Elena Kagan, the former dean of Harvard Law School who is less than two months into her tenure as the first female U.S. solicitor general.
– Harold Koh, the former Yale Law School dean and an Asian-American, whose nomination as State Department legal adviser is pending.
– Kathleen Sullivan, the former Stanford Law School dean and a partner in the New York office of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges.
– Diane Wood, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.
– Kim Wardlaw, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit who is Hispanic.
– Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, a former assistant U.S. attorney general for civil rights who is African-American.
Obama’s Cabinet also includes several lawyers who have been cited as potential candidates: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, both women, and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who is Hispanic.