Justice Souter Leaves a Feminist Legacy

Feminists across the nation are calling for President Obama to fill Justice David Souter’s soon-to-be-empty seat on the Supreme Court with a woman. As we look to the future, a review of the past should remind us of the important role Justice Souter has played in defending women’s rights. The National Women’s Law Center has posted on its blog a summary of Justice Souter’s record, including the following key stands:

  • Justice Souter was part of the 5-4 majority in Jackson v. Birmingham Board of Education (2005).  In that case, the Court held that Title IX protects those who complain of sex discrimination in schools against retaliation.
  • Justice Souter joined the 5-4 majority in Grutter v. Bollinger (2003).  In this case, the Court held that public universities could use affirmative action in their admissions policies to promote diversity.
  • Justice Souter was a co-author of the decisive “joint opinion” in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), in which the Court reaffirmed the essential holding of Roe v. Wade, protecting a woman’s right to choose.

Justice Souter’s voice will be missed. The fact that he has been such a staunch defender of women’s rights only highlights the need for his replacement to be someone who shares his commitment to protecting the constitutional rights of women. As we blogged last week, another female justice could go a long way in keeping the court on track with regards to women’s rights.


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The Women's Law Project creates a more just and equitable society by advancing the rights and status of all women throughout their lives. To this end, we engage in high-impact litigation, advocacy, and education.
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