As law clerks to the Honorable David Souter are well aware, our quirkiest Justice has been famously adamant about the one thing that would guarantee his retirement from the Court. Is it an ideological matter? An intractable dispute with one of his colleagues? A violation of his zero-tolerance policy for underwear chatter?
No, dear readers. It's something more ... fundamental.
Specifically, the Justice has long insisted that when -- or if -- the supply of plastic cutlery in his Chambers was depleted, he would have to retire from the Court. Legend has it that the Souter clerks, in an effort to stave off this eventuality, have been stockpiling plastic flatware for as long as anyone can recall.
Well, friends and fans: it appears that Justice Souter has run out of sporks and knives. And, clearly, he is a man of his word: reports surfaced late tonight that Justice Souter would be leaving the Court. Facts are still in short supply; it is not known, for example, whether somone snoozed on cutlery duty, or if an act of God is to blame for the "fork-up." But NPR's Nina Totenberg (who, Clerquette is informed, broke the story) reports that Justice Souter has advised the White House that he will retire at the end of this term. Amongst the factors that contributed to his decision, writes Totenberg, were his distaste for Washington, D.C., a persistent longing for the country roads of his native New Hampshire, and the election of Barack Obama, who is likely to nominate a true ideological successor to Souter. (Clerquette is unsure whether, as a technical matter, this would mean nominating a successor who turned out to be entirely different than he or she appeared, or actually replacing Souter with a liberal jurist.)
Despite the predictions by (inter alia) Clerquette's co-blogress, as well and our friends at Above the Law, that Souter's ongoing clerkless-ness was a sign that he was down to his last few forks, Clerquette cannot help feeling somewhat shocked - shocked! A Justice leaving for reasons unrelated to advanced age or illness? And, just think, dear readers, of the potential nominees for us to "vet"! The scandals! The battles in the theater of war known as "The Senate"! The Franken- contingent filibuster-proof majority that will, hopefully, guarantee safe passage through the confirmation process for the next illustrious member of The Supremes!
And who might the candidates be? Well, it is too early to offer anything but pure speculation ... which Clerquette is happy to do, in this instance. Here are a few of the names we've heard bandied about:
- Massachusetts Governor (and Obama buddy) Deval "Just Words" Patrick
-CTA9 Judge Kim Wardlaw and CTA2 Judge Sonia Sotomyer - both doubly delightful Hispanic women
-Elena Kagan (who still has that new-Solicitor General smell, but who would probably welcome the opportunity to wear a judicial robe, rather than the ol' morning coat )
-Former Yale Law School Dean (and lovably controversial nominee) Harold Koh, and
-CTA7 Judge Diane Wood.
In addition, Hillary Clinton and Janet Napolitano have been mentioned as possible nominees, although Clerquette suspects that neither of these superstars is ready to trade in her pantsuit for a neck-doily.
Clerquette bids you adieu, and will be back as soon as we have some more information to share, dear readers. My apologies, but Clerquette needs to save her energy for tomorrow's news cycle, which, hopefully, will be all Souter, all the time.
In the meantime, send me YOUR thoughts -- or dish -- on who should succeed Justice Souter. Clerquette can't wait to dig in.