Biography17 Sep 2010 03:12 am
“Our nearest neighbor, Canada, has four women on its nine-member court, and one is their chief justice. And they’re a great group. Now what’s the matter with us? You know, we can do better.”- Sandra Day O’Connor
On July 7, 1981, President Ronald Reagan announced that he intended to nominate Sandra Day O’Connor, a 51-year-old judge on the Arizona Court of Appeals, for a position on the United States Supreme Court. With the selection, the Gipper fulfilled a campaign promise to pick a woman for the Court as soon as a spot on the bench opened up.
Conservatives derided her lack of federal judicial experience and claimed she was lacking in constitutional knowledge. They considered her a wasted nomination and suspected her position on abortion. Liberals, on the other hand, could not deny their satisfaction at seeing a woman on the High Court, but they were dismayed at O’Connor’s apparent lack of strong support for feminist issues.
In time, however, O’Connor has come to answer all these criticisms. O’Connor has emerged from the shadow of Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and the Court’s conservative bloc with her own brand of pragmatic and centrist-oriented conservatism. Even those liberals who branded her a “traitor” in her early years for compromising on abortion rights, now appreciate her efforts to keep the “pro-choice” message of Roe v. Wade (1973) alive.
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