Friday, August 28, 2009

Justice Souter's Papers

Retired Supreme Court Justice David Souter has donated his papers, both personal and professional, to the New Hampshire Historical Society in Concord, of which he has been a member for many years. Read Tony Mauro's story in the National Law Journal here. Some historians are disappointed because Souter has "placed an extraordinarily long restriction on public access to his papers, barring anyone ... from viewing the material for 50 years. That's a lengthier seal than any justice has placed on papers in recent memory." When Chief Justice William Rehnquist's papers were donated to the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, stipulations were made as to when materials could be made public. This New York Times ' article reports that no materials relating to cases heard by justices still on the Court would be released until they stepped down.

According to Mauro, Souter's papers are in good order, but will need to be cataloged. He says whether "the society [will] be able to catalog the papers now, or not until the [fifty-year] restriction is nearly over? Apparently Justice Souter is "'considering' allowing an unnamed 'mutual person' ... to do the cataloguing, but otherwise society personnel are covered by the 50-year restriction like anyone else.'"

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