Paul Sousa– Paul Sousa is co-founder of the non-profit GLBT rights organization, Join The Impact MA, which puts on grassroots events in the metro Boston area.  Paul is also the founder and president of Equal Rep, a Boston based organization that focuses on rapid online mobilization to lobby for the appointment or election of highly qualified openly GLBT politicians.  The views expressed are his own. –

Supreme Court Justice David Souter is planning to retire at the end of the current Supreme Court term after 19 years on the bench. The vacancy will give President Obama his first chance to name a member of the high court and begin to shape its future direction.

President Obama recently stated, “the issues that come before the Court are not sport, they’re life and death. And we need somebody who’s got the heart–the empathy–to recognize what it’s like to be a young teenage mom. The empathy to understand what it’s like to be poor or African-American or gay or disabled or old–and that’s the criteria by which I’ll be selecting my judges.”

There have been 110 Supreme Court appointments throughout our nation’s history ranging from James Wilson in 1798 to the most recent appointment of Samuel Alito in 2006. 106 of those 110 Justices have been straight, white men. There have been two females, two men of color that have served on the Supreme Court, and not a single openly gay member has ever served.

President Obama now has a unique opportunity to not only nominate an incredibly qualified candidate, Kathleen Sullivan, but to also shatter a glass ceiling at the very same time. If chosen, Sullivan would become the first ever openly gay Justice and third female Justice in United States history to serve on the Supreme Court leading to a Court that more truly reflects the composition of the American population.