Retirement of David Souter

Supreme Court Justice David Souter will retire in June after more than 18 years on the Supreme Court.

There were rumors of Justice Souter meeting with Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and that he had not hired law clerks for the October 2009 term so maybe this was all kinda obvious. Still, justices don’t change over much so it always seems like big news.

Justice Souter pleased progressives and angered conservatives by taking moderate positions on the bench in spite of his nomination by a conservative President George H.W. Bush.

Who will replace Justice Souter? I made some predictions about Justice Souter’s replacement on the Supreme Court five months ago on the Maryland Lawyer Blog. That’s right, I’m working proactively for you, the home viewer. I’m betting on Harvard Law School Dean Elena Kagan but I really have no clue.

One way this might impact personal injury lawyers: Justice Souter voted with the majority on the Supreme Court’s rulings to limit on punitive damages on due process grounds. While Maryland law does not provide for punitive damages in auto accidents, product liability or medical malpractice cases absent actual malice, this could have a real impact on tort cases in other jurisdictions if Justice Souter’s replacement.