According to NPR, and other sources I am told, Justice Souter will retire at the end of the Court's current term. He will remain on the Court until he is replaced.
Much more to follow on this topic - but let's start with this... Jeff Sessions should be Republican Ranking Member on the Judiciary Committee. Not Orrin Hatch. Not Chuck Grassley.
UPDATE 2: In response to the below update regarding the Judiciary Commitee, a few folks have asked what they can do. Here you go:
1. Call Mitch McConnell at 202-224-3121.
2. Tell him that you understand there is some debate about who should be the Republican Ranking Member on Judiciary, and that you believe that person should be Jeff Sessions because:
- Sessions is next in line, is an accomplished lawyer and is a proven conservative.
- Chuck Grassley is neither a lawyer nor the right man for the job.
- Orrin Hatch has had his day.
3. Tell him also that this is a time to revisit the seniority system anyway - it is antiquated and perpetuates Washington largesse and stagnation as the same old dudes just shuffle around from committee to committee (e.g. Grassley going from Finance to Judiciary).
UPDATE: As reports have indicated, Senator Grassley is interested in the job of Judiciary Ranking Member but wants to keep his title as Finance Ranking Member AND be guaranteed the Judiciary spot in two years when he is "termed out" of Finance. To get his way, he's enlisted the support of former Judiciary Chairman Orrin Hatch - trying to cut a deal to get Hatch as ranking member for the remainder of this Congress until Grassley could take over in 2011 (which would require a waiver by the Republican Conference because Hatch is term limited on Judiciary).
To have Orrin Hatch or Chuck Grassley at the helm would be an unmitigated disaster. Each are cut from the same cloth - that of the old guard Republicans in the Senate who have given us the train wreck that the Party has become. They would hire terrible staffers who would neither be the smartest lawyers nor actually conservative - and, potentially, maintain a significant number of Specter's former staff.
Jeff Sessions, on the other hand, would field a talented team who could educate America on just who America is getting in the next Supreme Court justice . Barring something very odd and unexpected, the nominee will get confirmed. Therefore, our number one goal should be to make sure America knows who this person is and what he stands for - and you need the right people in place to make that happen.