As a replacement for William J. Brennan, Jr., the Supreme Court’s leading liberal, Republican Souter was expected to move the Court in a more conservative direction. Although he voted with the conservative bloc during his freshman term, he later moderated his views, becoming more liberal than most Court observers had predicted.
An only child, David H. Souter moved with his parents to Weare, New Hampshire, when he was eleven years old. Except for his college years, he lived in Weare until his appointment to the Supreme Court. He graduated from Harvard University magna cum laude in 1961, then spent the next two years at Oxford University studying law and philosophy on a Rhodes scholarship. After receiving a degree from Harvard Law School in 1966, Souter practiced law for two years before becoming assistant attorney general of New Hampshire. He was named the state’s attorney general in 1976 and served in that capacity until 1978. He then served as a judge on the state trial court for five years. In 1983, New Hampshire governor John Sununu
President George H. W. Bush
After Souter became a Supreme Court justice, his pragmatic approach to constitutional interpretation set him apart from his conservative Republican-appointed colleagues. He soon began to demonstrate a firm commitment to libertarian values of the First Amendment.
In the many 5-4 votes of the later years of the Rehnquist Court, Souter was almost always in agreement with the liberals. Consistently favoring a high wall between religion and government, he opposed the use of tax-supported vouchers in parochial schools in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris
Fliter, John A. “The Jurisprudential Evolution of Justice David Souter.” Southeastern Political Review 26 (December, 1998): 725-754. Fliter, John A. “Keeping the Faith: Justice David Souter and the First Amendment Religion Clauses.” Journal of Church and State 40 (Spring, 1998): 387-409. Hensley, Thomas R. The Rehnquist Court: Justices, Rulings, and Legacy. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-Clio, 2006. Tushnet, Mark. A Court Divided: The Rehnquist Court and the Future of Constitutional Law. New York: W. W. Norton, 2005 Yarbrough, Tinsley E. David Hackett Souter: Traditional Republican on the Rehnquist Court. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.
Bush v. Gore
Gratz v. Bollinger/Grutter v. Bollinger
Nominations to the Court
Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey
Rehnquist, William H.