By Justice Sandra Day O'Connor
May 6, 1988
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Sandra Day O'Connor
Edilors Note: This paper was delivered by Justice O'Co nnor as the Society's Thirteenth Annual Lecture on May 6, 1988. This paper is the text of that speech.
Precisely 201 years ago in Philadelphia, 1 55 delegates from 12 states at the Constitu tional Convention set their minds and hearts to work in order" to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the comnion defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity."
The delegates told us their purposes at the verystartof their final draft of theConstitution. If the order of the list of their purposes means anything, ''estab lishingJustice" was particu larly important;it rankssecond only to forming a more perfect union.
Many things are involved, of course, in the effort to "establish justice": enumerating rights possessed by every individua1, selling stan dards for holders of public office, and placing limits on the powers of government are just a few examples. Io a sense, the whole of the Constitution was an effort to establish justice by establishing a just government. But from my perspective as a judge, one thing that "es tablish justice" s-urel y means is the establi'sh ment of a judicial system.
This is an auspicious time to examjne the framers' development of Article Ill, creating the judicial branch of our government. We have witnessed recently the process of selection of a new