Wiki facts: Sandra Day O’Connor (born March 26, 1930) is a retired United States Supreme Court justice. She served as an Associate Justice from her appointment in 1981 by Ronald Reagan until her retirement from the Court in 2006. She was the first woman to be appointed to the Court.
Prior to O’Connor’s appointment to the Court, she was an elected official and judge in Arizona. On July 1, 2005, she announced her intention to retire effective upon the confirmation of a successor. Samuel Alito was nominated to take her seat in October 2005, and joined the Court on January 31, 2006.
O’Connor tended to approach each case narrowly without arguing for sweeping precedents. She most frequently sided with the court’s conservative bloc. In the latter years of her tenure, she was regarded as having the swing vote in many cases as the court grew more conservative.
O’Connor was Chancellor of The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, and currently serves on the board of trustees of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Several publications have named O’Connor among the most powerful women in the world. On August 12, 2009, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor of the United States, by President Barack Obama.
Thought we’d give a refresher on Justice O’Connor, because, I agree with her on the lack of CIVICS smarts these days.
Maddow-O’Connor interview here:
Parade Magazine interveiw: A Candid Conversation With Sandra Day O’Connor: ‘I Can Still Make a Difference’
Excerpt: During her quarter-century on the bench, O’Connor became known for her core belief in civility, compromise, and the sensible center. As a moderate justice on an ideologically divided court, she cast the swing vote in countless 5-4 decisions. Before she stepped down in 2006 to spend more time with her beloved husband, John, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s, Time magazine wrote that O’Connor would be remembered as “perhaps the most powerful Supreme Court justice in recent history.”
How can we rebuild the public’s confidence in the court?
SDO: “[We need] to teach people about the proper role of the U.S. Supreme Court. It isn’t a political branch of the government. It resolves legal disputes and interprets laws passed by Congress. We’re going through a period where apparently voters are more suspicious about the motives of the court, and that’s unfortunate. The court is the only branch of government that explains the reasons for its decisions. The health care opinion is more than 100 pages long. If people would stop to examine those reasons now and then, maybe they’d be more accepting of the process and the system. I would hope so.”
Justice Sandra Day O’Connor: Bringing Civics Back