Justice David Souter is retiring

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After six years of being considered one of the U.S. Supreme Court’s most distinguished liberal jurists, Justice David H. Souter quietly put his resignation in an envelope and sent it to President Barack Obama in 2011.

To the surprise of few people, Souter — who had been nominated to the high court at the age of 44 and came to the job at the age of 46 — quietly put his resignation in an envelope and sent it to Obama on the last day of the justices’ term in 2011.

And now, less than two months later, it looks like the man who was once considered the nation’s most gifted appellate court justice is headed for a life of retirement, instead.

Justice Souter announced his resignation late Thursday morning. He told the National Constitution Center’s “Justice at 25” podcast that he didn’t feel like fighting the decision but the retirement clock was ticking.

“I just want to get out from under it; it’s just too much,” Souter said in a phone interview.

“A justice at the end of his rope has to say that. And I just couldn’t do it anymore,” said Souter, a lawyer and former dean of the University of Chicago Law School. “We’ve had tremendous success and some wonderful opportunities. And I just couldn’t give them up.”

The retirement news is particularly interesting because it comes from a man who was considered a moderate and a friend to the left in the years that saw his appointment to the court. He is the first justice to put down his resignation since Justice William Brennan retired in 1973.

President Obama is expected to tap a replacement for Justice Souter and it is not expected to come before the November 2016 presidential election. A nomination could be expected to come before January 2017.

One of Souter’s final acts as a justice was

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