True Grit

I want you to read this article about Justice David Souter and celebrate with me that we had the benefit of his intellect, common sense and modesty for the last 19 years on the Supreme Court:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/02/AR2009050202248.html?hpid=topnews

While self-composed and self aware at the same time, Justice Souter is the classic example of live what you believe.  He knows himself, likes himself, and does not presuppose himself to be anything other than what he is.  Much to the chagrin of George H. W. Bush, who appointed him to the Supreme Court in 1990, and the block of Conservative lawmakers, Souter defined his time on the bench by asserting his independence from any political labels.  Whether or not Bush’s choice of Souter was a result of his lack of homework (Heaven knows we have seen that family trait magnified through the generations) or just a real judicial surprise, is irrelevant.  Souter’s brilliance was in his simplicity.

Don’t be fooled, though.  Souter’s simplicity belies a deep, devoted intellect and a rip roaring New England work ethic.  Furthermore, his keep-to-himself behavior does not provide the nay-sayers with ammunition for criticism.  How do you take down a man who clearly does his job well and lives by his own credo?

The decisions he contributed to were, of course, very important.  However, I believe that the process by which he came to his conclusions was even more admirable.  David Souter knows himself, does not need drama in his life, and fills his own shoes as well as one could hope for.  He truly epitomized the Constitutional tenet of political independence as laid out at our country’s inception.  The simplicity of his life and work is deceptive, because underlying that simplicity is much complication.  That has been his gift to himself and to us: he was true to his path.  He humbled us all by going from simplicity to complexity and back to simplicity again.

I thank Justice Souter for his time on our highest Court and his quiet, yet effective, profile.  I wish him many crisp, New Hampshire days of enjoying the air, the light, the dark,  his books and his neighbors.  I have no doubt that he will be as fiercely independent, contemplative and grateful in his retirement as he was on the Court.

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