George H.W. Bush’s Supreme Court legacy.

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RC20000315-312-RR: March 15, 2000: Justices Clarence Thomas and David Souter Rebecca Roth/Roll Call

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The passing of former president George Bush has called many to reflect on his time in office and the choices he made. Many look at his two Supreme Court nominations, Democrat David Souter and Republican Clarence Thomas, as the defining decisions of his presidency.

In the beginning of his time as justice, Souter backed Conservatives about 97% of the time but in 1992 his image changed when he sided with leftist views on prayer at graduation and abortion.

In 1992’s Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Souter wrote that Roe v. Wade should not be overturned because it would be “a surrender to political pressure… So to overrule under fire in the absence of the most compelling reason to re-examine a watershed decision would subvert the Court’s legitimacy beyond any serious question.”[14]

Souter’s liberalism led to many conservatives coining the term “No more Souters” in response to his many left leaning decisions while serving as justice. After Thomas was appointed, however: Souter seemed to align more in the middle as time went on.

In 2000, Souter voted along with three other justices in Bush v. Gore to allow the presidential election recount to continue while the majority voted to end the recount. The decision allowed the declaration of Bush as the winner of the election in Florida to stand.

Justice Clarence Thomas, Bush’s second nominee, is the longest-serving justice on the court and its most ardent conservative. The court’s most prolific author, Thomas has molded a generation of conservative legal scholarship. His former clerks hold top jobs in the Trump administration.

George H.W. Bush’s presidency was just one term but the choices he made has lasted through his illustrious career and still impact America to this day.

Clarence Thomas and David Souter