U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter is planning to retire, a reliable source reported Thursday night.
After nearly two decades, the 69-year-old judge is expected to open the first seat for President Obama to fill on the closely divided court - often referred to as the Kennedy court on account of swing voting Justice Anthony Kennedy.
Souter's retirement, though a surprise to many, is not expected to affect the balance of the court, however, as Obama is expected to fill the vacancy with another liberal-leaning judge.
Remaining on the bench, meanwhile, will be 89-year-old John Paul Stevens and 76-year-old Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the two oldest and most liberal judges, the latter of which plans to serve into her 80s despite a recent surgery for pancreatic cancer.
Though Souter, a regular jogger, is believed to be in good health and is younger than six of the other eight justices, his distaste for Washington is widely known and is thought to be among the reasons for his retirement.
Once retired, Souter will likely return to his native state of New Hampshire, from where President George H.W. Bush had nominated him for the high court in 1990.
Souter, who had joined the court as a conservative moderate, reportedly plans to retire in June but will stay on the bench until he is replaced.