It was said at the time of his nomination that Judge David H. Souter was chosen for the vacancy on the Supreme Court because he was "a blank slate." A Republican president chose an unknown so that the Democratic Senate would have no grounds to reject him. A corollary to this theory was that George Bush's chief of staff, John Sununu, knew that fellow New Hampshireman Souter was in agreement with him in opposing abortion.
After three days of listening to Judge Souter before the Senate Judiciary Committee, we would like to offer another theory. President Bush nominated Judge Souter because he has a remarkable legal mind and the proper attitude about what it is that judges do. We believe he is the most deserving and promising nominee in at least a decade. And he is the right nominee at the right time.
In his answers to questions, Judge Souter often quoted with approval Justice John Marshall Harlan (1955-1971). He apparently thinks of himself as a justice in the Harlan mode. Justice Harlan was the intellectual leader of the court for most of his tenure, even though he was often in the minority. He was a brilliant advocate of conservatism's core belief about courts -- judicial restraint. Even though Judge Souter disagrees with some of Justice Harlan's opinions, the fact that he chose him as a role model should make reasonable conservatives comfortable with this nomination.