Sandra Day O'Connor has submitted her resignation (retirement letter) to President Bush this morning. I honestly didn't see this coming...so I'm a bit speechless. There are a few surprises in this one. I really thought Rehnquist would die and Stephens would resign long before O'Connor. I'm hearing rumors that her husband has Alzheimers and she has sold her Georgetown home. Whatever the case this is going to shake up Washington.
I don't know much yet, but I know this--Sandra Day O'Connor has symbolized for a generation of women interested in the court, politics, and plain old history a transition from a typically patriarchal and male dominated society. She is a beacon shining bright for those of us with higher political aspirations. Granted, Reagan didn't get what he bargained for with her nomination, she has over time shifted to the left (as most Supreme Court justices do) and has played a key role as the swing vote, but she has been a precedent setting justice with a steadfast consideration for the Constitution of the United States of America. She is also leaving at a time when the Court has either the most to gain or lose. Her resignation shocked me most because of the man behind the desk at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. If Bush wants a legacy when he leaves, a lasting legacy, other than Iraq, here is his big chance. He'll either walk the walk, or buckle.
Now, with her resignation I see a lot of potential fights. Can we say filibuster? It's coming and coming quick if the president hopes to replace her by the opening of the October session of the Court. The only 3 names I've heard so far (and this is brand new information to me) are three senators: Mel Martinez (former Bush cabinet member and now Florida representative), DeWine from Ohio (very bad idea as far as I'm concerned), and from here in Idaho Mike Crapo (who is in questionable health and his fate is about as iffy as that of Rehnquist). The problem is, senators haven't had a good track record when it comes to getting confirmed. Of those 3 I'd most likely support Mel Martinez for his politics, though I'd really like to see Bush name a centrist, something he will not do. And with Mel, I'm all too quickly remembering the appointments of Abe Fortas and William Howard Taft. How much do Americans want to blend the branches of government and how much (or little) do they want to reign in the president? Now is the time to find out.
For a few years now I've thought less and less about the Court and have thought less and and less about the idea of going to law school, but when I see O'Connor and read her opinions, it doesn't matter what I've led myself to believe. I would stop everything, change directions, and do everything in my power to end up where she has. That's a pretty amazing legacy she is leaving behind. My appreciation to Sandra Day O'Connor is limitless. Whatever this appointment process brings, in the end, she made history. She was the first female associate justice appointed to the Supreme Court, sixty-one years after women got the right to vote. The world is a better place because of strong women like Sandra Day O'Connor.