It looks like Barack Obama has an early Supreme Court appointment on his hands: David Souter plans to retire, according to various news reports. Souter was appointed by George H. W. Bush, but leans left.
Souter is basically a freedom-hating welfare abortionist, as far as Sarah Palin social conservatives are concerned: He voted to uphold Roe vs. Wade, the historic abortion rights case; upheld college affirmative action in a 2003 case; and was, in the Times' words, a "bitter dissenter" in Bush v. Gore. So Obama can't really change the court with his appointment, especially since he has to get it past moderate Democrats (howdy, Arlen!).
The president does have the chance to make history, by appointing the first hispanic justice. In fact, Sonia Sotomayor, of Puerto Rican descent, is the only judge included on both the Times and Wall Street Journal short lists.
Whoever gets appointed will have to be confirmed in the senate at the same time Obama is trying to pass bills on health care, financial system reform and energy. So basically Souter just threw yet another gigantic project in Obama's overflowing inbox, THANKS.
Why? Because DC sucks. From the Times:
Souter... has grown increasingly sour on Washington and intends to return to his home state, New Hampshire, according to the people briefed on his plans