U.S. Supreme Court

Is the ‘Anonymous Justice’ Souter Considering Retirement?

At least one U.S. Supreme Court watcher has speculated that Justice David H. Souter has become disenchanted with life on the Supreme Court and may soon retire.

Souter guards his privacy to such an extent that Bloomberg News calls him the “anonymous justice.” He told a congressional panel in 1996 that Supreme Court proceedings could be broadcast “over my dead body.” He shuns interviews and bars cameras from his speeches.

“Souter in some ways is a throwback,” the Bloomberg story says. “He has little use for computers and other modern technology. He told senators at his 1990 confirmation hearing that he still owned a black-and-white television set.” Yet he also wrote a 2005 opinion finding that Internet file sharing firms may be held responsible for illegal downloading.

A former Souter clerk, Meir Feder of Jones Day, said the liberal justice was upset about the decision in Bush v. Gore blocking an election recount in Florida. Another former clerk, University of Pennsylvania law professor Kermit Roosevelt, said Souter is frustrated that he cannot change others’ minds.

Supreme Court specialist Thomas Goldstein has predicted that Souter still step down after the next president takes office. “He has not shied away from letting the people around him understand that he does not view this as a lifetime job,” he told Bloomberg.

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