Archive for the 'Sandra Day O’Connor' Category
Addressing the Philadelphia Bar Association, retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor called it a “serious problem that people in this country think of judges as politicians in robes,” Law360.com reported. She urged the lawyers’ group, which backs merit-based selection of judges, to continue pushing for reform.
There is an erosion of public trust in impartial courts when judges are seen as politicians, Justice O’Connor warned. She mentioned opinion polling showing that almost three in four Americans believe campaign contributions have an influence on judges, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported.
Pennsylvania has seen some of the nation’s most expensive judicial elections, Justice O’Connor noted.
Lynn Marks, executive director of Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts, said about Justice O’Connor’s remarks:
“Judicial selection reform is not necessarily the most eye-catching or ‘sexy’ issue. However, vocal support from nationally respected figures like Justice O’Connor highlights the need for change. Campaign money, special interest group and political party endorsements, a familiar name, or good ballot position shouldn’t play such a big role in choosing jurists, who play such a critical role in society.” Read more
Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor stressed themes of preserving judicial independence and impartiality when she addressed the annual Sovereignty Symposium in Oklahoma City this week.
Justice O’Connor recently became the First Honorary Chair of Justice at Stake (see Gavel Grab).
In Oklahoma, she called upon the political community to embrace judicial independence, according to an Oklahoman article.
“Judges will maintain their independence and we will maintain our independent system if our political community understands that the measure of a great judge is not how often she agrees with you, but how fairly she approaches the findings and the issues before the judge,” Justice O’Connor said. “And that includes the male judges, too.”
She said judges must take steps to avoid even a perception of partisanship.
“We have a serious problem today because many people in our country think of judges as just politicians in robes,” she said. “They’re often called ‘judicial activists’ or ‘godless, secular humanists’ trying to tell the rest of us what to do.”
In an Illinois speech, retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor said the nation’s judicial system is emulated worldwide, yet she also urged steps to help preserve its impartiality and independence.
Justice O’Connor reiterated her opposition to judicial elections, according to a Chicago Tribune article about her speech, delivered at Elmhurst College. She recently joined Justice at Stake as the organization’s first honorary chair (see Gavel Grab).
“I think there are many who think of judges as politicians in robes. In many states, that’s what they are,” Justice O’Connor said.
To avoid any perception of bias or actual bias in their rulings, judges “need to turn a high-power lens on themselves,” she said. In some cases a judge Read more
Perhaps the Supreme Court shouldn’t have taken up Bush v. Gore, retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor told the Chicago Tribune editorial board when asked to identify the most controversial case decided during her quarter-century on the court.
“It took the case and decided it at a time when it was still a big election issue,” Justice O’Connor said, according to a Chicago Tribune news article. “Maybe the court should have said, ‘We’re not going to take it, goodbye.’ ”
The court case that decided the presidential election of 2000 ”stirred up the public” and “gave the court a less than perfect reputation,” she said.
“Obviously the court did reach a decision and thought it had to reach a decision,” she added. “It turned out the election authorities in Florida hadn’t done a real good job there and kind of messed it up. And probably the Supreme Court added to the problem at the end of the day.”
At a Charleston School of Law symposium on Monday, former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor spoke on how difficult it is for courts to decide cases concerning issues of church and state.
According to the Associated Press, O’Connor said that “religious pluralism lies at the very heart of the American political tradition and I think it remains a major concern as our country becomes ever more the home of larger and larger communities of people from widely different ethnic and religious backgrounds.”
O’Connor discussed the lack of a unified theory for courts to answer these tough questions. She said the Supreme Court has on occasion made contradictory decisions.
“It’s going to remain one of the most difficult areas of the law and grand theories are always going to be eroded by tests of time and experience. The role of the judge is to do the best she can and do the right thing in the case that’s before us – and to try to explain what we’re doing in a way that teaches something for the case that is going to come next,” she said.
The article also noted that O’Connor was named as Honorary Chair of Justice at Stake’s board of directors on Monday (see Gavel Grab).
Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, a leading voice for fair and impartial courts, is joining Justice at Stake as its first Honorary Chair, JAS Board Chairman Mark Harrison announced on Monday.
“Justice O’Connor has served our country with distinction on the U.S. Supreme Court and also as an elected Arizona legislator, an elected county judge and an appointed state appeals court judge. She knows the courts from all sides, and she brings a unique perspective to our Justice at Stake partnership,” Harrison said in a press release.
“The greatest threat to judicial independence in our country today is the flood of money coming into the courtrooms by increasingly expensive and volatile campaigns,” Justice O’Connor said. “Justice at Stake is a nonpartisan partnership that has done groundbreaking work. I’ve worked with Justice at Stake in the past. I’m happy now to help raise its profile in protecting fair courts around the country.”
JAS Executive Director Bert Brandenburg said, “We’re thrilled that America’s foremost champion for fair courts is joining Justice at Stake’s mission to help educate Americans about the threats to impartial justice.” He added, “When this eminently respected judge warns about campaign politics eroding trust in the courts, people listen.”
Justice O’Connor retired from the Supreme Court in 2006. Since stepping down from the court she has sounded a warning about the growth of special-interest money in judicial elections. She has urged states to consider selecting judges not through elections but by merit-based selection, as her home state of Arizona and nearly two dozen other states do. She also has spearheaded a public-minded civics education campaign through iCivics, which she founded in 2009.
On Tuesday, retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to discuss the court and her new book, “Out of Order.”
Stewart asked the former justice about her book’s purpose in telling stories from the high court, and its justices. When asked about making a decision from the bench, especially on controversial cases, O’Connor said that some decisions affect the justices for years.
“You really want to make the correct decision and bring some order out of our various statutes and constitutional provisions. It’s hard sometimes,” she said.
Stewart questioned O’Connor about the cases the current court faces. “When they have a terribly difficult decision, I usually say to myself thank goodness I don’t have to be there deciding that,” she joked. Read more
A new book by retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor discusses the history of the nation’s highest court from the perspective of someone who has served on it.
“Out of Order doesn’t deliver bombshells about high profile opinions in which she participated or about serving as the “crucial swing justice,” the New York Times says, but it gets a favorable review nonetheless:
“The reason to read ‘Out of Order’ is to get Justice O’Connor’s succinct, snappy account of how today’s court — so powerful, so controversial and so frequently dissected by the media — evolved from such startlingly humble and uncertain beginnings that it initially seemed like a jerry-built enterprise constructed on entirely ad hoc principles.”
In an interview for the Sunday Parade, former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor expressed her views over the public’s perception of the current Supreme Court justices.
She found the high court’s current approval rating of 44 percent “very disturbing.” The numbers reflect a stark contrast when compared with the 66 percent approval the court had in the late ’80s.
“I think Bush v. Gore may have been a turning point,” she said. “It was seen by the public as political. [The case] had to be resolved somehow. But it didn’t help the image of the court any.”
During the interview, David Gergen asked O’Connor about the controversial health care decision the court handed down in the spring, and the reputation of the institution in its wake.
O’Connor said that Chief Justice John Roberts’ decision to uphold President Obama’s health care reform law was not a betrayal of the party that had appointed him. It demonstrated that the “court is not acting on political instincts,” she argued.
“[We need] to teach people about the proper role of the U.S. Supreme Court. It isn’t a political branch of the government. It resolves legal disputes and interprets laws passed by Congress. We’re going through a period where apparently voters are more suspicious about the motives of the court, and that’s unfortunate. The court is the only branch of government that explains the reasons for its decisions. …If people would stop to examine those reasons now and then, maybe they’d be more accepting of the process and the system. I would hope so.”
Parade magazine is one of the most widely read publications in the U.S., with nearly 70 million readers. It’s distributed by over 600 Sunday newspapers across the country.
In an interview on “Face the Nation” on Sunday, former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor expressed her disappointment over the public’s current approval rating of the Supreme Court. A Huffington Post article cited O’Connor:
“In the past, when the public is asked about three branches of government, the judicial branch has had the highest respect. Now it’s the same for all, it’s all down. It’s a great disappointment to me.”
According to a CBS poll from The New York Times and CBS news, just 44 percent of Americans approve of the Supreme Court.
O’Connor additionally expressed her disappointment with the Citizens United ruling. When asked in the interview whether she believes the increase in super PAC spending has harmed American politics, O’Connor answered, “It hasn’t helped. I’ll put it that way.”
According to Politico, O’Connor said in the interview that the 2000 Bush vs. Gore Supreme Court decision may have triggered the diminishing public approval of the Court.