Judge Souter's Views on Stewarding the Constitution

FOLLOWING are excerpts from US Supreme Court nominee David Souter's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee: On abortion:

``I have not got any agenda on what should be done with Roe v. Wade if that case were brought before me. I will listen to both sides of that case. I have not made up my mind.''

On privacy:

``...There is certainly, to begin with, a core of privacy which is identified as marital privacy, and I believe it can and should be regarded as fundamental.''

On procreation:

``...If we are going to have any core concept of marital privacy, that [the decision whether to procreate] would certainly have to rank at its fundamental heart.''

An exchange on the First Amendment:

Senator Leahy: ``What is your view of Chief Justice Burger's statement about the First Amendment as protector of the rights of minorities, even very small minorities, who hold views different than the majority?''

Judge Souter: ``There is no question about its correctness.... The First Amendment would be worthless if that were not true.''

On affirmative action:

``...If we are, in the United States, to have the kind of society which I described yesterday as the society which I knew or found reflected in my home, there will be a need - and I am afraid for a longer time than we would like to say - a need for the affirmative action which seeks out qualified people who have been discouraged by generations of societal discrimination from taking their place in the mainstream.''

On class-action suits:

``There are going to be some cases in which the only thing that is going to be proven is going to be a specific act of discrimination. And there are going to be other cases, in fact, and what is proven is, in fact, a far broader, but proven, discrimination.''

On fair hearing:

``A fair hearing means something substantially more than simply judicial courtesy, to sit back and let a person say whatever is in that person's mind. A fair hearing requires a willingness of the court not only to listen but genuinely to examine the position which the court is inclined...to take.''

On reviewing precedent:

``...It would be a mistake...for a court ever to be unwilling to reexamine the wisdom of something it has done.''

On Justice Brennan:

``Justice Brennan is going to be remembered as one of the most fearlessly principled guardians of the American Constitution that it has ever had and ever will have.''

On the Constitution:

The US Constitution endures because it ``rests upon a recognition of where its power comes from, and it is structured with a recognition that power will be abused unless it is limited and divided and restrained.''

On crusading for a cause:

``I guess my greatest crusade was the cause against bringing casino gambling into the State of New Hampshire, which I thought would destroy the political fabric of the state.''

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