Earlier this year, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor retired from the Supreme Court of the United States after 25 years of service. It would be difficult to overstate the impact that Justice O’Connor has had on the interpretation of the Constitution during her tenure on the Court. Her importance to the development of American constitutional law stems from her central position on the Supreme Court. Professor Erwin Chemerinsky has described her role in these terms:
O’Connor is in control. In virtually every area of constitutional law, her key fifth vote determines what will be the majority’s position and what will be the dissent. Lawyers who argue and write briefs to the Court know they are, for all practical purposes, arguing to an audience of one.
In order to understand the influence that Justice O’Connor has wielded within the Court and in order to appreciate the specific contributions that she has made to American law, it is appropriate to examine her judicial philosophy and to review the substantive principles that she has helped to create. The purpose of this essay is to briefly summarize the jurisprudence of Justice O’Connor in the field of Constitutional Law.
- Sandra Day O'Connor,
- Supreme Court