Justice David Souter is stepping down from the nation’s highest court sometime this year, presenting President Obama with his first opportunity to nominate someone to the Supreme Court. The retirement of Souter is not likely to affect the current ideological balance in the Court, especially concerning abortion issue. Since being named to the Court in 1990, Souter has voted twice against the partial-birth abortion ban and has consistenly ruled in favor of abortion rights. His successor will most-likely follow in the same suit.
With the news of his retirement spreading, it is time to start preparing for the long process of hearings, Senate votes, and controversies that undoubtedly await the next Supreme Court Justice.
The process begins when Souter officially announcing his retirement, which he is expected to do publicly in the coming days. Justice Souter does not have to step down from the Court immediately, and will most likely remain on the bench through the current term, ending in June. Once he has formally retired, all eyes turn to Obama who will then name his nominee to fill the vacant seat.
The nomination will then make its way to the Senate, where after extensive research, the Senate Judiciary Committee will conduct hearings with the nominee. The committee will then vote on the nominee, a process that could be made quite interesting with the recent change of party by Arlen Specter. Specter was the former ranking Republican on the committee and the most likely to work with the Obama White House on its nominee. Once out of the committee, however, the appointment will be voted on by the entire Senate.
The Senate hearings and confirmation vote generally take place before the Supreme Court starts its new session in October.