(CN) – Justice David Souter sent a letter to President Barack Obama Friday announcing his retirement from the Supreme Court. He plans to leave when the court rises for summer recess. “I imagine it won’t change all that many results,” said Michael Granne, a professor at Seton Hall Law School.
Although Souter was appointed by George H.W. Bush in 1990, he began to vote as part of the “liberal four,” with Justices John Stevens, Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Now his replacement will be appointed by a Democrat, who will likely continue to vote with the liberals, Granne said at Seton Hall.
Obama plans to consult members of both parties, he said in a press release on Souter’s replacement.
“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,” Obama said. “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.”
Obama also applauded Souter for his independence. “He came to the bench with no particular ideology,” the president said.
In 1992, Souter voted in Planned Parenthood v. Casey to largely uphold Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision that overturned restrictions on a woman’s right to have an abortion.
In Lee v. Weisman, also decided in 1992, Souter voted against allowing prayer during a high-school graduation. He concurred with the majority, resulting in a 5-4 decision.
And in Bush v. Gore, Souter voted in the minority to continue the recount during the 2000 election.
Souter is 69 years old. Five justices are older than him, but it’s been reported that he wishes to return to the more quiet surroundings in his home-state, New Hampshire.