A FINAL GOODBYE
JULY 29, 1997
President Bill Clinton and Supreme Court Justice David Souter share words about Justice William Brennan.
JIM LEHRER: Now, retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Brennan. He died last week at age 91. He was buried today at Arlington National Cemetery, after a funeral Mass in Washington. Cameras were not allowed inside the cathedral, but we have audio excerpts from the eulogies of President Clinton and the man who took Brennan's place on the court, Justice David Souter. PRESIDENT CLINTON: Today, we recall his decency and grace, which made out of his philosophical foes some close personal friends. We recall his humor and humility. We recall his pride in his own heritage and assuming almost an explicable empathy that enabled him to walk in the shoes of those whose lives were so very different from his own.
We recall him as a legal giant, the balance wheel who molded the Supreme Court into an instrument of liberty and equality during tumultuous times. For Justice Brennan, the phrases of our Constitution were not archaic abstractions but living, vibrant guarantees of the freedom and equality God has given us. Because of him, those old words came alive in our lives as well.
JUSTICE DAVID SOUTER: One thing we are not doing here today is saying goodbye to William Brennan, the Justice. It's true the life of the man is over; so is the liberal era in which his voice was the voice of the Supreme Court. But the law, as he saw it, will transcend his own time. If our next decision is meant to follow the course he set, we will reach out to him.
And if we decide not to accept his direction, we will have to grapple with him. But year after year, subject after subject of the national law, we will either accept the inheritance of his thinking, or we will have to face him squarely and make good the challenge that we raise to him. And so there are no goodbyes to be said to William Brennan, the Justice. We shall deal with him many times again.