Justice Thurgood Marshall said in an interview broadcast last night that his close friend and ally, retired justice William J. Brennan Jr., "cannot be replaced" on the Supreme Court.

"There's nobody here that can persuade the way Brennan can persuade," Marshall said on ABC News's "Primetime Live." "Brennan will sit down and talk to you and show you where you're wrong. Well, there's nobody with that power on the court today."

Marshall said neither he nor Brennan had ever heard of President Bush's nominee to replace Brennan, appeals court Judge David H. Souter.

"When his name came down, I listened to television," Marshall said. And the first thing I called my wife" and asked, " 'Have I ever heard of this man?' She said 'No. I haven't either.' So I promptly called Brennan because it's his circuit. And his wife answered the phone, and . . . she said, 'He's never heard of him either.' "

Marshall, who had been critical of then-President Ronald Reagan's stand on civil rights, appeared no more well-disposed toward President Bush, and said he would vote against Bush if he ran for reelection.

"It's said that if you can't say something good about a dead person, don't say it," he said. "Well, I consider him dead."

Marshall said Chief of Staff John H. Sununu appeared to be "calling his shots."