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Obama shares thoughts, plans on David Souter and replacement process

(UPDATE: This item has been updated with the addition below of a C-SPAN video of the president speaking.)

Remarks by President Obama on Supreme Court Justice David Souter and White House plans to replace him:

THE PRESIDENT: I just got off the telephone with Justice Souter.  And so I would like to say a few words about his decision to retire from the Supreme Court.

Throughout his two decades on the Supreme Court, Justice Souter has shown what it means to be a fair-minded and independent judge.  He came to the bench with no particular ideology.  He never sought to promote a political agenda.  And he consistently defied labels and rejected absolutes, focusing instead on just one task -- reaching a just result in the case that was before him.

 He approached judging as he approaches life, with a feverish work ethic and a good sense of humor, with integrity, equanimity and compassion -- the hallmark of not just being a good judge, but of being a good person.

I am incredibly grateful for his dedicated service.  I told him as much when we spoke.  I spoke on behalf of the American people thanking him for his service.  And I wish him safe travels on his journey home to his beloved New Hampshire and on the road ahead.

Now, the process of selecting someone to replace Justice Souter is among my most serious responsibilities as President.  So I will seek somebody with a sharp and independent mind and a record of excellence and integrity. 

I will seek someone who understands that justice isn't about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a case book.  It is also about how our laws affect the daily realities of people's lives -- whether they can make a living and care for their families; whether they feel safe in their homes and welcome in their own nation.

I view that quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with people's hopes and struggles as an essential ingredient for arriving as just decisions and outcomes.  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. 

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.

 As I make this decision, I intend to consult with members of both parties across the political spectrum.  And it is my hope that we can swear in our new Supreme Court Justice in time for him or her to be seated by the first Monday in October when the Court's new term begins. (Video of president's remarks is below.)    ##

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Wait, wait Obama is going to nominate an "empathetic" justice and maybe there is hope for Demjanjuk, the Nazi guard...may be the justice will not deport him because he is old, ill and doesn't understand the circumstances of the hearing.

We need "empathetic" justices to have feelings and understand how torturous this would be for this 89 year old, right?

On merit or empathy? Get real Obama. Adhere to the law, not emotions. Emotions are on both sides. Deal with the case on merit.

Geesh! What a ridiculous Obama notion -an empathetic justice. Letter of the law!

An example of Davey Souter's "empathy" and adherence to our Constitution: Eminent Domain.

Don't continue to be fooled.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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