O'Connor Justice Breaks Ranks with Conservatives on Gender Issues
July 17, 1983
DISCLAIMER: This text has been transcribed automatically and may contain substantial inaccuracies due to the limitations of automatic transcription technology. This transcript is intended only to make the content of this document more easily discoverable and searchable. If you would like to quote the exact text of this document in any piece of work or research, please view the original using the link above and gather your quote directly from the source. The Sandra Day O'Connor Institute does not warrant, represent, or guarantee in any way that the text below is accurate.
(Excerpt, Automatically generated)
Two years ago, when Sandra O'Connor was nominated as the first sister to join The Brethren, Reagan called her a "person for all seasons." The political commentators, on the other hand, called her "a person for all reasons." She was a two-fer: a conservative and a woman. Now Justice O'Connor has completed her second term at the court with a remarkable finish: She walked down the middle of the road with one foot on each sidewalk. In the Court's closing week, O'Connor cast the swing votes in the Norris pension case. First she agreed with one quartet of justices that pension plans can't pay smaller monthly benefits to women than to men. Then she agreed with the other quartet of justices that this decision should not be retroactive, that equality would start from today. As Judith Lichtman of the Women's Legal Defense Fund reads it, "She gave us half a loaf." And this is, in many ways, a decent summary of the First Woman's first two years on the bench. O'Connor has sliced the legal bread on her table in an intriguing way. In most cases, O'Connor voted with conservative Justice William Rehnquist.Indeed their nickname, "the Arizona twins" could be changed to "the Arizona Siamese twins." She voted with conservatives on the death penalty issues, and on many civil rights issues. She helped narrow the standard for class-action suits and agreed that a plaintiff had to prove an employer's "intent" to discriminate. Finally, in the long-awaited abortion case, she wrote the minority opinion