September 21, 2007

Supreme Court's Nine.

The US Supreme Court's decision in Bush v. Gore will forever remain in infamy. People respected for their erudition and detached passion for the word of the law let their political desires dictate their decision. The decision seems to have caused intense disillusionment in one justice. David Souter, a Republican who was in the minority in Bush v. Gore, was so aghast at the decision that he wept.
David Souter was shattered. He was, fundamentally, a very different person from his colleagues. It wasn’t just that they had immediate families; their lives off the bench were entirely unlike his. They went to parties and conferences; they gave speeches; they mingled in Washington, where cynicism about everything, including the work of the Supreme Court, was universal. Toughened or coarsened by their worldly lives, the other dissenters could move on, but Souter couldn’t. His whole life was being a judge. He came from a tradition where the independence of the judiciary was the foundation of the rule of law. And Souter believed that Bush v. Gore mocked that tradition. His colleagues’ actions were so transparently, so crudely partisan that Souter thought he might not be able to serve with them anymore.

Souter seriously considered resigning. For many months it was not at all clear whether he would remain a justice. That the Court met in a city he loathed made the decision even harder. At the urging of a handful of close friends, he decided to stay on, but his attitude towards the Court was never the same. There were times when Souter thought of Bush v. Gore and wept.

This comes from Jeffrey Toobin's latest book, The Nine, as quoted in this review on Harper's. The book promises to be a great read. I can't wait to get my hands on it. Here's the NYT review of the book.


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