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Souter has final day at high court

Souter was a member of the court's liberal bloc. Souter was a member of the court's liberal bloc.
Associated Press / June 30, 2009
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WASHINGTON - It took Justice David Souter’s final day at the Supreme Court to bring him into the limelight after nearly two decades in Washington.

A New England Republican who became a member of the court’s liberal bloc, the typically reticent Souter opened up a bit yesterday, saying how much the strong bonds forged with his fellow justices had meant to him.

At the close of the morning’s business, Souter read aloud from a letter to his colleagues, saying that friendship “has held us together’’ despite sometimes strong disagreements “over those things that matter to decent people in a civil society.’’

Souter, 69, joined the court at a moment when it appeared the court could overrule its landmark abortion rights decision, Roe v. Wade.

Instead, in 1992, in what remains probably his most noted work, Souter joined in a ruling reaffirming a woman’s right to an abortion.

As various justices made the rounds of Washington’s social scene, wrote books, or appeared on television, Souter had no use for the benefits that come with celebrity in the nation’s capital.

Souter maintained a small apartment in the city’s southwest quadrant, close to a military installation.

“For nearly 20 years, the court has had the benefit of your wisdom, civility and dedication,’’ his fellow justices wrote in a letter that Chief Justice John Roberts read in court.