In 1990, when Supreme Court Justice David Souter was sworn in, he said, “Some human life is going to be changed by what we do. And so we had better use every power of our minds and our hearts and our beings to get those rulings right."
Ten years later, we now find out, his mind, heart and being were troubled by the 5-4 decision to stop the Florida vote recount and hand the presidency to George W. Bush, even though he could not possibly have imagined how many human lives would be changed by that decision.
In his new book, “The Nine,” Jeffrey Toobin writes that while the other justices put the case behind them, “David Souter alone was shattered,” at times weeping when he thought of the case.
“For many months, it was not at all clear whether he would remain as a justice...At the urging of a handful of close friends, he decided to stay on, but his attitude toward the Court was never the same.”
The irony of Souter’s dissent in that case and distress afterward lies in the fact that he was appointed to the Court by George W. Bush’s father in the belief that he was a true conservative. He was and is, but not in the warped sense that the Bushes have given the word in the years since.