Opinion | What Sandra Day O’Connor Stood For on the Supreme Court
“At a time after we see all over the world the violent penalties of the idea of non secular authority by authorities, People might rely themselves lucky,” she wrote in her separate concurring opinion in McCreary County v. American Civil Liberties Union. She continued, “Those that would renegotiate the boundaries between church and state should due to this fact reply a troublesome query: Why would we commerce a system that has served us so properly for one which has served others so poorly?”
In that case and in lots of others throughout the second half of her tenure, Justice O’Connor held the stability of energy on what some known as the O’Connor court docket. The court docket lurched rapidly to the precise with the arrival of her successor, Samuel Alito. As we speak’s court docket would hardly be recognizable to the justices whose firm Sandra O’Connor joined in 1981.
This anniversary is an event to mirror not solely on what occurred 40 years in the past, however on what has occurred within the intervening a long time to carry us to a second when authorized abortion may very well be pushed out of the second most populous state within the nation with out the Supreme Courtroom lifting a finger.
After Justice O’Connor’s retirement from the court docket and mine from the Supreme Courtroom beat at The Occasions, we noticed each other with some regularity. We met not likely as mates, however somewhat as veterans of a long time of widespread experiences, albeit she as participant and I as observer. The evening earlier than Election Day in 2008, we shared the stage at an occasion the place I had been invited to be her dialog companion. Earlier than the proceedings started, I discussed that I had taken coaching to be an election decide on the polls, and he or she advised me she had despatched her absentee poll to Arizona, her official dwelling in retirement. I used to be intensely curious to know whether or not she had voted for Barack Obama or the Republican nominee, Senator John McCain of Arizona.
After all, there was no approach I may ask the query immediately, so I attempted an indirect method. “I assume you realize Senator McCain fairly properly,” I ventured. Her response was instantaneous and nearly fierce. “I don’t,” she declared. “I’ve met him, however I don’t know him. He’s a newcomer to Arizona.” (Not like Barry Goldwater, born within the Arizona Territory earlier than statehood, John McCain had moved to Arizona after his discharge from the Navy in 1981.)
Nobody who had simply voted for a person for president would describe him in such deflating phrases. As she absolutely meant, with out acknowledging my unasked query, she had advised me precisely what I wished to know.
Forty years in the past, it was Sandra O’Connor who was a newcomer. Then, for a time, she made the Supreme Courtroom her personal. If we are able to’t recapture that point, a minimum of, on this anniversary, we are able to keep in mind it.
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