U. S. Supreme Court currently consists of one chief justice (John Roberts) and eight associate justices. Associate Justice David Hackett Souter’s opinions have played the determining role in many U. S. Supreme Court decisions. This is why his life and career in court deserve special attention. David Hackett Souter was born on September 17, 1939 in Massachusetts. In 1961, the future Justice Souter graduated from Harvard College, being also selected Rhodes Scholar. He studied at Magdalen College in Oxford and at Harvard Law School (U. S. Supreme Court).
Justice Souter holds several degrees in law and jurisprudence, and is known for his exceptional practical knowledge and expertise. Since 1978, David Hackett Souter has been holding the position of Assistant Attorney General in New Hampshire. Very soon, he was transferred to take the position of Associate Justice in New Hampshire Supreme Court. Souter’s career has gradually led him to occupying the position of Judge in the U. S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. In 1990, President Bush nominated Souter as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court (U. S.
Supreme Court). Justice Souter is the honorary fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, the Honorary Fellow of Magdalen College, and the Associate of Harvard College. Justice Souter’s legal contribution is easily seen through his court decisions. His concurring and dissenting opinions seriously change the legal and social visions of those who participate in the legal processes. No matter, whether Justice Souter expresses his dissent or concurrence with other Supreme Court Justices, he always grounds his opinions on objective historical and legal facts.
In 2000, Justice Souter expressed his dissent with the position of other Supreme Court Justices, who opposed to recounting Presidential Elections votes in Florida. In 2000 Presidential Elections, the two candidates could not find agreement in whether Florida voting machines had failed to register all votes. George W. Bush sued Albert Gore, Jr. to stop the process of recounting votes. Justice Souter did not agree with the position of the Supreme Court’s majority.
Although he viewed recounting as necessary and possible, he was sure that “the case being before us, however, its resolution by the majority is another erroneous decision” (Cornell University Law School). Justice Souter was confident that electoral decisions had to be resolved in Congress. He referred to the provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment and to the political (not legal) tension which brought the two candidates to the Supreme Court. In Justice Souter’s view, there was “no justification for denying the State the opportunity to try to count all disputed ballots now” (Cornell University Law School).
However, the Court did not agree with Souter’s opinion and decided to stop the process of recounting votes. On March 4, 2003, Justice Souter presented one of his concurrent opinions to U. S. Supreme Court. The question was “does the Court of Federal Claims have jurisdiction over the White Mountain Tribe’s suit against the United States for breach of fiduciary duty to manage land and improvements held in trust for the Tribe but occupied by the Government” (Cornell University Law School).
In order to be more objective, Justice Souter had to make an insight into the historical position of Fort Apache and Indian Tribes’ reservations since 1877. Souter agreed with the majority of U. S. Supreme Court Justices in that the court of Federal Claims held sufficient jurisdiction over the White Mountain Apache Tribe suit against the United States. Justice Souter had to re-interpret the 1960 Act of Congress which gave the Apache Indian tribes sufficient freedom for using the land for administrative and school purposes, although the land was held by the United States in trust for Indian tribes.
The Justice has also emphasized the fact that the mentioned Act held the Government liable for any damages caused by breaching its duties as a trustee. Ultimately, the Court had to agree with Souter’s arguments. Conclusion Justice Souter’s career and court decisions have completely changed my vision of the judiciary processes and its principles. I have finally understood that for a U. S. Supreme Court Justice to take an objective decision, one has to make a deep and thorough insight into the history of the case, the related issues, and possibility (or impossibility) for the Court to resolve these issues.
To be a Supreme Court Justice means to possess profound legal and historical knowledge. To be a Supreme Court Justice means to be able to formulate concurrent or dissenting opinions, and to ground them on legal facts and provisions. I have also noticed that U. S. Supreme Justices rarely take unanimous decisions. They argue to defend their positions; they look for new legal interpretations, and usually take a decision which benefits the majority. The number of Justice Souter’s dissents is almost equal to the number of his concurrent opinions expressed in U. S. Supreme Court.
Thus, how perfect the U. S. laws can be, they offer enough space to interpret them in different ways. Several Justices can use the same law to either agree with the Court’s majority, or to express their dissent. As a result, the Justices can exercise an unlimited number of legal interpretations as long as these interpretations support their positions in Court. In many cases, the Justices have to view their arguments through the historical prism. To take the most objective and correct decision Justice Souter often has to dig deep into the American history. U. S.
Supreme Court remains the source and the basis of legal trust for the majority of the American citizens. This is why to be a Supreme Court Justice means to be critically responsible for each word and sentence expressed in Court.
Cornell University Law School. (2008). David Hackett Souter. Supreme Court Collection. Retrieved April 30, 2008 from http://www. law. cornell. edu/supct/justices/souter. bio. html U. S. Supreme Court. (2008). The Justices of the Supreme Court. Supreme Court of the United States. Retrieved April 30, 2008 from http://www. supremecourtus. gov/about/biographiescurrent. pdf