(CNN) - Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, hailed David Souter as a "gifted jurist" and a "first-rate legal mind" Friday in an issued statement:
“Justice Souter has served the Nation with distinction for nearly two decades on the Supreme Court. I have admired his commitment to justice, his admiration for the law, and his understanding of the impact of the Court’s decisions on the daily lives of ordinary Americans. Throughout his career, he has been committed to the law and not to ideology. New Englanders treasure our strong sense of independence, and Justice Souter fits the independent Yankee mold. He has a first-rate legal mind. I have known him to be an honest and tireless person who has given years of his life in service to this country.
“Of course, we have all known that his deep love for New Hampshire would take him away from the Court some day. Nonetheless, I am sad to see a gifted jurist, a dedicated public servant and a decent man leave the bench. We have long been neighbors in New England, and I look forward to seeing him at home.
“Now more than ever, while the country is in the throes of an economic recession, and fighting to strengthen our economic and national security, Americans are looking to Washington for leadership and cooperation. I know that as President Obama selects a nominee to replace Justice Souter, he will continue to consult with Senators from both sides of the aisle as he has this year with so many nominations. In exercising their important roles in the confirmation of the next Supreme Court Justice, I hope that all Senators will take this opportunity to unify around the shared constitutional values that will define Justice Souter’s legacy on the Court.”