Speaking at a judicial conference in Philadelphia on Tuesday, Supreme Court Justice David Souter reminisced about his long legal career and waxed poetic about his larger role in society. Souter opened up his 15-minute speech by noting that he had not expected for the news of his planned retirement to leak so soon. “I swear to you I was not the source of the leak,” he said, to a chorus of laughs. The speech reflected the justice’s characteristic humility: The significance of one’s work, he said, “is often slight,” but worth doing to the best of one’s ability. In a rare show of emotion, Souter choked up as he quoted one of his predecessors. He quietly stepped away from the microphone after expressing his admiration for his peers in the legal world.