Supreme Court Justice David Souter is planning to retire at the end of the current court term.
The vacancy will give President Obama his first chance to name a member of the high court and begin to shape its future direction.
At 69, Souter is nowhere near the oldest member of the court. In fact, he is in the younger half of the court’s age range, with five justices older and just three younger. So far as anyone knows, he is in good health. But he has made clear to friends for some time that he wanted to leave Washington, a city he has never liked, and return to his native New Hampshire. Now, according to reliable sources, he has decided to take the plunge and has informed the White House of his decision.