Sandra Day O'Connor

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Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court - retired from the Court on January 31, 2006, in the middle of the term. Sandra Day O'Connor was born on March 26, 1930 in El Paso, Texas. Moved to Arizona in 1952. By 1965 she was assistant attorney general; in 1969 she was appointed to a vacant state senate seat and eventually became Senate Majority Leader. In 1974 she ran for the bench and won, in 1979 she was appointed to Arizona Court of Appeals, In September 1981, Reagan appointed her, the first female justice, to the court.

Due to votes in favor of sodomy laws, among other cases, Sandra was once considered quite conservative. Over the past decade, however, her votes have trended to moderate; she is often the swing vote in 5-4 decisions. In the past decade, her vote was key in upholding abortion laws, affirmative action, and campaign finance, to name only a few. By virtue of her swing roll she exerts an incredible amount of power and control, shaping many of the decisive opinions of the court over the last decade. She is frequently referred to as "the most powerful woman in America". O'Connor, along with Anthony Kennedy, is considered by some Republicans to be increasingly liberalized and unworthy of her Reagan placement on the bench (they tend to blame the influence of her "liberal" court clerks or say that she wants attention).

One of her most important decisions came near the end of her tenure, when she wrote the principal dissent on Kelo v. New London; a decision that expanded the powers of eminent domain to favor the wealthy and well connected.

Misc.

Widely reported to have had an unhappy reaction when she thought Al Gore had won 2000's Presidential election.

The film First Monday in October, with some strong parallels to her own views and ascension to the Supreme Court (obviously not a ripoff of her life, since First Monday in October had been a stage play for a number of years), was released the year Reagan appointed her.

After her retirement, she gave a speech excoriating the Republican leadership for attacking the Judiciary: "I," said O'Connor, "am against judicial reforms driven by nakedly partisan reasoning." ..."We must be ever vigilant against those who would strong-arm the judiciary into adopting their preferred policies. It takes a lot of degeneration before a country falls into dictatorship," she said, "but we should avoid these ends by avoiding these beginnings." Source: NPR and this dKos diary. Also see the related article, threatening judges.

She is a member of the Iraq Study Group.

External Links

Sandra Day O'Connor Wikipedia biography

Extensive review of her personal life and most notable court decisions; not updated since 1999.

Please click the Sandra Day O'Connor link on the page, current WIKI conventions preclude a direct link on this address: www.supremecourthistory.org/myweb/justice/o'connor.htm

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