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Justice Sandra Day O'Connor

Self Description

December 2005: "Sandra Day O’Connor, Associate Justice, was born in El Paso, Texas, March 26, 1930. She married John Jay O’Connor III in 1952 and has three sons—Scott, Brian, and Jay. She received her B.A. and LL.B. from Stanford University. She served as Deputy County Attorney of San Mateo County, California from 1952–1953 and as a civilian attorney for Quartermaster Market Center, Frankfurt, Germany from 1954–1957. From 1958– 1960, she practiced law in Maryvale, Arizona, and served as Assistant Attorney General of Arizona from 1965–1969. She was appointed to the Arizona State Senate in 1969 and was subsequently reelected to two two-year terms. In 1975 she was elected Judge of the Maricopa County Superior Court and served until 1979, when she was appointed to the Arizona Court of Appeals. President Reagan nominated her as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and she took her seat September 25, 1981."

Third-Party Descriptions

August 2012: 'Given that more than 80% of the public, according to the General Social Survey, thinks courts are “not harsh enough” on criminals—and convicted felons lose the vote—imposing harsh sentences would appear to be a quite logical, cost-free way to improve popularity. Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor is among those who have argued for doing away with judicial elections, to shield them from political pressure.'

March 2012: "The decisions were part of a renewed interest in federalism associated with Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, who died in 2005, and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who retired in 2006."

February 2012: "The new case, Fisher v. University of Texas, No. 11-345, was brought by Abigail Fisher, a white student who says the University of Texas denied her admission because of her race. The case has idiosyncrasies that may limit its reach, but it also has the potential to eliminate diversity as a rationale sufficient to justify any use of race in admission decisions — the rationale the court endorsed in the Grutter decision. Diversity, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote, encourages lively classroom discussions, fosters cross-racial harmony and cultivates leaders seen as legitimate. But critics say there is only a weak link between racial and academic diversity."

September 2011: "Watching the process from the sidelines — with concern — has been Sandra Day O’Connor, the retired Supreme Court justice, who was a Republican state senator here earlier in her career and is well respected by members of both parties. Lamenting the increase in partisan rancor, she said, “What we have not seen enough of is thoughtful, civil discussion on the issues that divide us and an attempt to really develop a consensus.”"

July 2011: 'The current controversy was sparked by the earlier Supreme Court decisions. In two cases from the University of Michigan, the divided high court said the university's law school could give preferential treatment to minorities -- as one factor in the admissions process -- but could not set quotas or use a point system. Writing for the majority in the law school case, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said the Constitution "does not prohibit the law school's narrowly tailored use of race in admissions decisions to further a compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body."'

April 2011: "For more than a quarter of a century, voters have rejected efforts to move from an elective to an appointive bench. Last year, despite a campaign led by Sandra Day O’Connor, Nevada voters became the latest to reject such a change."

November 2010: "O'Connor was an eloquent opponent of intrusive group searches that threatened privacy without increasing security. In a 1983 opinion upholding searches by drug-sniffing dogs, she recognized that a search is most likely to be considered constitutionally reasonable if it is very effective at discovering contraband without revealing innocent but embarrassing information. The backscatter machines seem, in O'Connor's view, to be the antithesis of a reasonable search: They reveal a great deal of innocent but embarrassing information and are remarkably ineffective at revealing low-density contraband."

March 2009: "Justice at Stake, a judicial reform group that has been sounding the alarm about the role of money in judges' races, notes that the amount of money raised by state supreme court candidates from 2000 to 2007 was almost $168 million, nearly double that raised during the 1990s. Former Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O'Connor is among those sharply critical of those elections."

July 2008: "the Supreme Court’s 2003 decision in Grutter v. Bollinger, which concerned affirmative action at public universities, showed public support running 2 to 1 for giving poorer kids a leg up in going to college, as opposed to 2 to 1 against race-based preferences. In her majority opinion in the case, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor famously said she thought that racial preferences would continue only for another 25 years."

March 2008: "Then-Justice Sandra Day O'Connor referred to the brief both during oral arguments and in the 5 to 4 opinion she wrote in Grutter v. Bollinger upholding the law school's use of race in the admissions process."

February 2008: '"Retaliation against a person because that person has complained of sex discrimination is another form of intentional sex discrimination," wrote Justice Sandra Day O'Connor in her last full term on the court.'

February 2008: 'Along similar lines, and far more recently, in the 2005 case Jackson v. Birmingham Board of Education the Supreme Court read into Title IX, a sex discrimination law, a protection against retaliation. The actual word doesn't appear in this statute, either. This time, the plaintiff was a white basketball coach. In a 5-4 decision by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the court said the coach's right to sue for discriminatory treatment of the girls on his team was key to "effective protection" of the equal rights for which Title IX provides.'

October 2007: 'The fact that a gun is treated momentarily as an item of commerce does not render it inert or deprive it of destructive capacity,' Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote for the majority.

December 2006: Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was the deciding fifth vote that upheld the constitutionality of the law school's affirmative action plan. After her retirement, she was replaced by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., who as a government lawyer was critical of race-based plans.

October 2006: In recent years, the Supreme Court has moved toward limiting large punitive damage awards by establishing a three-part test. But the champion of that approach, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, has retired from the court and it is unclear how the newest members of the court, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, will view the issue.

October 2006: Ultimately, if the Military Commissions Act winds up before the high court, the outcome may turn on how Kennedy interprets a single paragraph in the 2004 Hamdi decision. At issue in that case was whether a US citizen could be held indefinitely as an enemy combatant. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (who has since retired) wrote a plurality opinion joined by Kennedy. It said that a citizen-detainee accused of being an enemy combatant must be able to examine the factual basis for his detention and be given a fair opportunity to rebut the government's allegations before a neutral decisionmaker.

March 2005: The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment provides that 'Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.'....Subsequent courts have dealt with Lemon either by modifying its various prongs (as Justice Sandra Day O'Connor did in a 1984 crèche case called Lynch v. Donnelly), manipulating it to produce desired outcomes, or ignoring the test altogether.

January 2006: That was a reference to Justice O'Connor's decisive opinion turning back another broad assertion of executive power in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, a 2004 case in which the court allowed a man held without charges as an enemy combatant to challenge his detention, over the objections of the Bush administration.

December 2005: Civil liberties advocates were appalled by a memo he helped draft on torture. The State Department's chief legal adviser at the time called his analysis of the Geneva Conventions 'seriously flawed.' Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote, in a critique of administration views espoused by Yoo, 'a state of war is not a blank check for the President when it comes to the rights of the Nation's citizens.'

November 2005: Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who is retiring, has been a swing vote on many states' rights cases. O'Connor's vote will not count in Goodman's case if she has left the court before the decision in Goodman's case is announced.


RoleNameTypeLast Updated
Organization Executive (past or present) Arizona (State Government) Organization Dec 21, 2005
Student/Trainee (past or present) Stanford University Organization Dec 21, 2005
Employee/Contractor/Fellow/Freelancer (past or present) US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) Organization
Succeeded by Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr., Esq. Person May 14, 2006
Supervisor of (past or present) Prof. Viet D. Dinh Esq. Person Apr 22, 2006
Supervisor of (past or present) Prof. Oona A. Hathaway Esq. Person May 20, 2011
Supervisor of (past or present) Prof. Eugene Volokh Esq. Person Jan 16, 2008

Articles and Resources

59 Articles and Resources. Go to:  [Next 20]   [End]

Date Resource Read it at:
Aug 16, 2012 Elections Shape Judicial Sentencing, Study Finds

QUOTE: Making sure to account for whether cases were resolved via plea bargain or trial, and the criminal history of defendants, the authors identified a 10% increase in sentence length from the start of a judge’s term to the election (or, for judges who ran opposed, to the filing deadline for running, several months earlier).

Wall Street Journal, The (WSJ)
Mar 19, 2012 At Heart of Health Law Clash, a 1942 Case of a Farmer’s Wheat

QUOTE: Mr. Filburn sued to overturn a 1938 federal law that told him how much wheat he could grow on his family farm and made him pay a penalty for every extra bushel. The 1942 decision against him, Wickard v. Filburn, is the basis for the Supreme Court’s modern understanding of the scope of federal power.

New York Times
Feb 21, 2012 Justices Take Up Race as a Factor in College Entry

QUOTE: In a 2003 decision that the majority said it expected would last for 25 years, the Supreme Court allowed public colleges and universities to take account of race in admission decisions...By agreeing to hear a major case involving race-conscious admissions at the University of Texas, the court thrust affirmative action back into the public and political discourse after years in which it had mostly faded from view.

New York Times
Sep 03, 2011 Arizona Redistricting Panel Is Under Attack, Even Before Its Work Is Done

QUOTE: the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, with two Republican members, two Democratic members and an independent chairwoman, has found itself subject to such fierce attacks that its work is being questioned even before that work has been done. The stakes are high — explosive population growth over the last decade, especially among Latinos, entitles the state to one more Congressional seat, its ninth.

New York Times
Jul 01, 2011 Divided appeals court strikes down Michigan's affirmative action ban

QUOTE: A divided federal appeals court on Friday struck down Michigan's controversial ban on consideration of race and gender in college admissions....The affirmative action ban was passed five years ago in a referendum and was added to the state's constitution...

CNN (Cable News Network)
Apr 17, 2011 You Get the Judges You Pay For

QUOTE: An ugly, expensive campaign for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court is but the latest example of what is now common in judicial elections: millions of dollars in misleading television ads, subsidized by lobbies that have cases before the bench.

New York Times
Nov 28, 2010 The TSA is invasive, annoying - and unconstitutional

QUOTE: Neither virtual strip-searches nor intrusive pat-downs should be considered "routine," and therefore courts should rule that neither can be used for primary screening.

Washington Post
May 21, 2010 Take Justice Off the Ballot

QUOTE: a balance between lifetime appointment and partisan election by providing for the open, public nomination and appointment of judges, followed in due course by a standardized judicial performance evaluation and, finally, a yes/no vote in which citizens either approve the judge or vote him out. This kind of merit selection system — now used in some form in two-thirds of states — protects the impartiality of the judiciary without sacrificing accountability.

New York Times
Mar 02, 2009 Case May Define When a Judge Must Recuse Self

QUOTE: the case raises profound questions about the way Americans elect their judges, the duty of judges to recuse themselves when the people who bankrolled their campaigns come before them and, even, the very meaning of judicial impartiality.

Washington Post
Jul 18, 2008 The Next Kind of Integration

QUOTE: In June of last year, a conservative majority of the Supreme Court, in a 5-to-4 decision, declared the racial-integration efforts of two school districts unconstitutional...By invoking Brown v. Board of Education, the court’s landmark 1954 civil rights ruling, Breyer accused the majority of abandoning a touchstone in the country’s efforts to overcome racial division. “This is a decision that the court and the nation will come to regret,” he concluded.

New York Times
Mar 09, 2008 D.C. Gun Case Draws Crowd of High Court 'Friends'

QUOTE: With the intentions of the Framers in question and modern social policy at stake, justices considering whether the District of Columbia's ban on handguns violates the Constitution have received an avalanche of advice from professors, doctors, social scientists, district attorneys, historians, religious groups, members of Congress and, of course, Vice President Cheney.

Washington Post
Feb 24, 2008 Justices Further Resist Finding Right to Sue

QUOTE: Two discrimination cases that the court heard last week, both concerning retaliation, made plain that a sizable number of justices are deeply resistant to finding [a right to sue that is not explicitly stated in the law] and to expanding those it previously recognized.

Washington Post
Feb 19, 2008 Employer retaliation cases reach U.S. Supreme Court

QUOTE: When can workers sue against acts of retaliation by employers? Two cases slated for hearing this week may help clarify.

Christian Science Monitor
Feb 18, 2008 The Freedmen's Remedy: The big discrimination case before the Supreme Court

QUOTE: The question before the Supreme whether an employee can sue for race discrimination based on Section 1981 [which gave former slaves the same rights to "make and enforce contracts" as white people] if his claim is that his employer retaliated against him [in this case, by firing him].

Oct 05, 2007 At high court: In a drugs-for-gun deal, is the gun being 'used'?: The issue is coming up more often in sting operations – and has meant more jail time for convicts.

QUOTE: Although the case sounds unique, it is becoming increasingly common in sting operations for undercover agents to introduce or suggest a gun as a form of payment in a drug deal. Under the law as written by Congress, the gun adds an automatic five years in prison – and sometimes much more – to any drug charges.

Christian Science Monitor
May 30, 2007 Over Ginsburg's Dissent, Court Limits Bias Suits

QUOTE: A Supreme Court once again split by the thinnest of margins ruled yesterday that workers may not sue their employers over unequal pay caused by discrimination alleged to have occurred years earlier.

Washington Post
Apr 25, 2007 US Supreme Court reviews limits on political ads: Campaign-finance and free-speech issues are involved, and the case could reveal dynamics at the high court.

QUOTE: At issue in the campaign-finance cases, set for oral argument on Wednesday, is whether the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) of 2002 violated the free-speech rights of a Wisconsin-based advocacy group. The group, Wisconsin Right to Life, was barred from running three broadcast advertisements critical of US Senate incumbent Russ Feingold (D) of Wisconsin in the days leading up to the 2004 election.

Christian Science Monitor
Apr 19, 2007 US Supreme Court allows late-term abortion ban: The 5-to-4 ruling upholds a ban on 'partial-birth' abortion. In 2000, the court had struck down a similar ban.

QUOTE: The decision marks the first time since the landmark abortion precedent Roe v. Wade in 1973 that the nation's highest court has ruled in a way that places considerations of a woman's health as secondary to efforts by the government to restrict abortion procedures performed prior to fetal viability. That shift could embolden antiabortion forces to try to enact more restrictions at the state level.

Christian Science Monitor
Feb 10, 2007 Sudden death: American support for the death penalty is diminishing—except on the Supreme Court

QUOTE: Our newfound national queasiness over the death penalty extends from the methods of execution to growing fears that we're executing the wrong guys.

Dec 03, 2006 Supreme Court to Review Two School-Integration Plans: Justices to Consider Whether Race Can Still Be a Factor in Public School Placement

QUOTE: More than 50 years after the Supreme Court decided in Brown v. Board of Education that separate schools are inherently unequal, the court will consider tomorrow whether race can still be a factor when school systems design programs to promote racial integration. A broadly written decision on Louisville's plan, and on a related one from Seattle, could have a profound impact on school systems across the country.

Washington Post

59 Articles and Resources. Go to:  [Next 20]   [End]