In Dicta

Monday, July 04, 2005

Justice Sandra "Lefty" O'Connor?

The National Journal published an article titled How O'Connor And The Court Have Drifted Leftward which makes some very good points. Among them:

"On June 27, as the Supreme Court ended its term amid rampant speculation about 80-year-old Chief Justice William Rehnquist's future, his 75-year-old colleague Sandra Day O'Connor was continuing to inch away from her "conservative" past.

In one of the two Janus-faced decisions on the Ten Commandments, the Reagan-appointed O'Connor positioned herself to the left of Clinton-appointed Justice Stephen Breyer. She voted (in dissent) to order removal of a Ten Commandments monument in Texas that he voted to save. Breyer wrote that court-ordered removal "would, I fear, lead the law to exhibit a hostility toward religion that has no place in our Establishment Clause traditions."

(...)

O'Connor's leftward drift helps account for the supposedly conservative Rehnquist Court's surprisingly liberal trend in recent years. So do the similar evolutions of Anthony Kennedy, another Reagan appointee, and John Paul Stevens, a once-moderate Ford appointee who is now the leader of the Court's liberal bloc. Not to mention the emergence of David Souter as a liberal soon after his appointment by the first President Bush. Kennedy or O'Connor (or both) often leave conservatives gnashing their teeth, by allying with Stevens, Souter, Breyer, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the only other Democratic (Clinton) appointee, against Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas."

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