President Obama made a surprise appearance in Friday afternoon's White House briefing to confirm that Justice Souter had submitted his resignation.

"I am incredibly grateful for his dedicated service," Obama said. "I wish him safe travels on his journey home to his beloved New Hampshire."

"I will seek someone with a sharp independent mind and a record of excellence and integrity," Obama said about his choice for a new nominee. "I will seek someone who is dedicated to the rule of law, who honors our constitutional traditions."

The president pledged to work with members of Congress in both parties and across the political spectrum, and set the beginning of the court's next term in October as an objective for when a new nominee should be seated.