Saying that Souter has a weak will
isn't exactly fair. You might as well call him for what he is—a (gasp!
, who favors federal supremacy
and judicial activism
and all the things that conservative
s like George Bush
despise. In that respect, he really was
a terrible decision on the part of Bush, although Clarence Thomas
more than made up for it.
That said, based on what I've heard, Souter is the most colorful figure on the Supreme Court by far. He drives a Volkswagen Rabbit to work. In fact, he once had a breakdown on Interstate 95 while on the way to New England, and a pair of Supreme Court police officers had to rush up the freeway from the District to give him a ride.
One guy I met, who worked in the Supreme Court for several years as an audio engineer and coffee boy, had tons of stories about Souter. Whereas Antonin Scalia and Stephen Breyer kept their doors closed, and Sandra Day O'Connor spent most of her time screaming at people, Souter was infinitely more free-spirited. He would leave his office open so anyone could walk in, and his law clerks would just sort of hang around the books like bored college students.
While you might take this to mean he doesn't give a damn about his job, nothing could be farther from the truth. Out of the Supreme Court's four left-wing justices, Souter is perhaps the most outspoken and active: John Paul Stevens and Stephen Breyer don't do all that much, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg rarely tries to rally the progressive troops together. Souter wrote the dissenting opinion in Bush v. Gore and reportedly tried to get Anthony Kennedy to vote in favor of Gore. Even though Dave's probably puffing the magic dragon once in a while, he's an excellent lawyer and politician, and if you happen to believe in the Democratic Party, he's also an excellent judge.
Of course, if you follow George W. Bush, Mr. Souter is Satan incarnate and deserves to be crucified upside down and naked in a vat of boiling oil alongside Pantload Clinton. But it's all a matter of opinion.
Some of my favorite Souter moments