David Souter was probably one of the oddest judicial nominations by any president. He was chosen by George H.W. Bush in 1990 in what should have been a relatively conservative addition to the United States Supreme Court. In fact, the opposite happened, and while Souter was not a left-wing nut, he was center-left, which shocked most people. On Friday, May 1st, Souter announced that he would be retiring from the Court, which enables Obama to choose a judge more pliable to his liking (not that Souter was horrible for the Messiah...).
" 'In addition, the president said he will seek "somebody with a sharp, independent mind and a record of excellence and integrity.' That person must honor traditions, respect the judicial process and share Obama's grasp of constitutional values, he said."
So essentially, it'll be a left-wing fruit-loop that'll replace Souter (who will probably look downright rightest compared to his successor). The last part in the above statement is pretty much the only thing that counts. Obama's "grasp of constitutional values" means that someone who believes the Constitution is an activist document will be placed on the Court. And given the situation in Congress right now, it's a certainty that the candidate will sail through with no problems.
"The president said he intends to consult with people in both political parties as he makes his choice to replace Souter."
Yeah, I'm sure he'll fete good RINOs who just want to get along. Of course, if Republicans get too feisty, he can just say "I won."
"Sen. Orrin Hatch, the Republican who led the Senate Judiciary Committee when President Bill Clinton nominated Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Stephen Breyer to the court, said Republicans needed to be fair and not seek 'a big fight that is ideological.' "
This coming from a guy who has no problems pissing all over the Constitution a couple of months ago regarding making the D.C. representative a voting member of Congress. The Constitution is quite explicit about the District of Columbia being a distinct and separate entity from the other 50 states. This is mainly due to the idea that the center of federal government should not be directly involved in political decisions. Now, Hatch was a big supporter of this because it added another representative (temporarily) to Utah (which Hatch represents). However, when the Census is finished next year, then Utah could very well lose that representative again, which means that Hatch's scheme will fail dismally. Once again, short term interests trump the long term. By the way, the way things are going, it had better damn well be ideological because the Democrats see this battle as nothing but. But of course, the RINOs still haven't figured it out yet. They're too busy trying to make nice.
Here's the overall situation. Souter was center-left already, so this does not change things much. He'll most likely be replaced by a much more leftist judge, but that doesn't really change the equation for the Court, which is roughly 4 liberal, 4 conservative and 1 fence-sitter. And given the Democrats' hold on both Houses of Congress, there will not be any real problems in the nomination process. Oh, I'm sure a few Republicans will piss and moan about it, but for the most part I expect that the RINOs will act like they always do and help the Democrats in order to be "cooperative." Of course, the RINOs are still irrelevant since the Democrats don't really need them.
In fact, the next two eldest judges are both liberals: Ruth Bader-Ginsburg (76) and John Paul Stevens (89). Steven Breyer, also a liberal, is 70. The former two are the most likely judges to leave the Court. Since these two are both leftists anyway, replacing them will not change the balance in the short term. What it will do is keep several leftists in the Court for a long time. Three of the four conservative judges are relatively young: John Roberts (54), Samuel Alito (55) and Clarence Thomas (60). Only Antonin Scalia is getting on in years (73). That leaves one judge that teeters constantly back and forth: Anthony Kennedy, who is 72.
However, as Souter has shown, age isn't necessarily the only factor in determining when a judge will leave the court. However, consider this. If Obama wins re-election in 2012, he could conceivably nominate as many as five judges before he's out, based on the age criteria. The average SCOTUS nomination number for presidents has been two per administration. With Souter leaving, Obama is halfway to that average and he's just over 100 days in. That is significant to say the least.