Friday, March 17, 2006

sandra day o'connor speaks out!

The newly retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, appointed by President Reagan but considered by many to be a moderate and "the swing vote," recently spoke out against right-wing attacks on the judiciary.

Sandra Day O'Connor was born in El Paso, Texas, and spent much of her life in Duncan, Arizona. She later attended Stanford in the 1950s. She had trouble finding work as a lawyer because of her gender, but she was appointed to the Arizona State Senate and was subsequently elected to two full terms as a Republican. She became the first woman to become Senate Majority Leader in any state. She was serving as judge on the Arizona Court of Appeals when she was tapped by President Reagan.

Ms. O'Connor spent twenty-four years on the Supreme Court. She was the first woman to be appointed to the highest court of the land, and part of her service was spent with the second woman ever appointed and confirmed, Clinton-nominated Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

On March 9, Sandra Day O'Connor gave a speech at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. In her speech, she criticized Republican leaders for their attacks on the independent judiciary. She declared, "We must be ever-vigilant against those who would strong-arm the judiciary" and said that such threats "pose a direct threat to our constitutional freedom."

Many point to former Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) as an example of what O'Connor is warning against. Last year during the Terri Schiavo debacle, DeLay called for scrutiny of "an arrogant, out-of-control, unaccountable judiciary that thumbed their nose at Congress and the president." Unfortunately for these Republicans, the Supreme Court is in place to uphold the Constitution rather than to enforce the conservative moral agenda.

"It takes a lot of degeneration before a country falls into dictatorship," Ms. O'Connor said, "but we should avoid these ends by avoiding these beginnings."

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