Obama May Get Chance to Flavor High Court

Published May 1, 2009

It appears that President Obama will soon go through the political rigors of appointing a new U.S. Supreme Court justice.

Justice David Souter, appointed to the high bench in 1990 by then-President H.W. Bush, is expected to step down in June, sources told the White House Thursday night, The Associated Press reports.

Souter, whom conservatives had hoped would help lean the court to the right when he was appointed, actually did just the opposite. It is expected that Obama’s choice would leave the flavor of the high court as it is, since he is likely to name a liberal replacement.

Many African Americans are hoping that the president would rectify the fact that only one Black is on the court. With only one woman also on the court, Obama could also remedy that shortage. In fact, he could address both concerns by appointing a Black woman. Currently Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 76, who has experienced faltering health in recent months, is the only woman on the high court.

The age of yet another liberal justice, John Paul Stevens, who is 89, means that Obama could get more than one appointment during his administration. At 69, Souter, a regular jogger, is in better health than both.

"We're looking for President Obama to choose an eminently qualified candidate who is committed to the core constitutional values, who is committed to justice for all and not just a few," said Nan Aron, president of the liberal Alliance for Justice.

Said Marge Baker, executive vice president at People For the American Way: "America owes a debt of gratitude to Justice Souter for his service. Justice Souter has shown a deep understanding not only of the law, but of the implications the Court's decisions have in the real world.  He has been an important voice against ideological extremism.

"To fill Justice Souter's seat on the Court, President Obama should nominate someone who can continue his work to defend our personal freedoms and ensure that every person has equal access to justice.  Our country needs another jurist who appreciates the impact that the law and the Constitution have on every American, not just a few.  In November, President Obama was given a mandate to appoint federal judges who are committed to our core constitutional values of justice, equality, and opportunity for all. That is exactly what he should do."

Written by BET.com News Staff

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