"Most Insignificant Supreme Court Justice?" Believe It or Not, There is a Debate.

By Neetal Parekh on February 09, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Big Supreme Court of the U.S. (SCOTUS) news this week has included the announcement that retired  Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter is set to deliver the commencement address at Harvard, which also happens to be the Justice's undergraduate and law school alma mater.  Appointed in 1990 by President George H. Bush, Justice Souter proved to be a moderate liberal, even-keeled SCOTUS justice who notably dissented in Bush v. Gore and joined Supreme Court Justices Kennedy and O'Connor in a plurality position in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, upholding the tenets of Roe v. Wade.  He left his post on the High Court with a legacy of strong work ethic, quiet independence, and as a champion of individual rights.

And that officially takes retired Justice Souter out of the running as the Supreme Court's most insignificant justice, leaving 110 other candidates vying for the prize of most forgettable. 

Interestingly (or less so if you know the propensity of attorneys to opine about members of their profession), there is an actual debate regarding the most inconsequential SCOTUS justice.  Perhaps it kicked off with Professor David P. Currie's article, "The Most Insignificant Justice: A Preliminary Inquiry" in the the Spring 1983 University of Chicago Law Review where one Supreme Court Justice Gabriel Duvall was deemed title-holder--of insignificance. But, not to be outdone, Professor Currie's article was duly followed up by Professor Frank Easterbrook also of the University of Chicago in his academic query, "The Most Insignifcant Justice: Further Evidence" in which he proceeded to identify Justice Thomas Todd as deserving of the notation.

Chief Justice John Roberts tackled the delicate issue in his humorous address to the Federalist Society, taking care not to compromise this claim to fame by, well, bringing it undue attention.



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