WEARE, N.H. (AP) _ High school teacher Tom Sutton wants to show tapes of David Souter's Supreme Court confirmation hearings to his personal-law class.

He says Souter gives hometown flesh to the abstractions of justice.

''Here's the highest court in the land and we've got someone who is maybe going to be there,'' Sutton said. ''It's creating a lot of local interest in the man, but it's creating interest in the position as well.''

Souter, 50, answered questions Thursday during the first day of hearings by the Senate Judiciary Committee. He spoke about his life in this small New Hampshire town as neighbors watched with pride and affection.

Janet Brown, a childhood friend, said she wasn't surprised that Souter brought up the town of 4,500 people during his opening remarks.

''He's a very caring person, warm to everyone,'' Brown said. ''He's what we were all brought up to believe in.''

Souter said Weare bred a closeness among people ''unattainable anywhere else'' and added, ''We were aware of lives that were easy and we were aware of lives that were very hard.''

Marian Setterlund, who owns Cinder's Country Store, also praised Souter.

''He's apolitical, he's an honest man and he stays to himself,'' she said.

Others in Weare agreed.

''I don't think he can do wrong in any way as far as the people in the town are concerned,'' Selectman Bill Herman said.

Each of Weare's selectmen urged the Judiciary Committee to confirm Souter's nomination.

Souter's mother, Helen, thought he looked exhausted on the hearing's opening day and noticed his 5 o'clock shadow.

''He has a very heavy beard. He's meticulous about shaving, but that he can't help,'' she said.

Souter lived with his mother in their weatherbeaten Weare farmhouse until she moved into a retirement residence in Concord several years ago. Souter still lives in the farmhouse and visits his mother every Sunday.

Brown said that the respectful way the senators treated Souter renewed her patriotism. She said watching the hearings was like watching America at work.

''I'm impressed with the whole system. America can sleep better knowing someone with his integrity has the opportunity to be there,'' she said.