Many of you are aware of my (perhaps slightly creepy) fascination with the Supreme Court. Well, while driving to go get some pickles from Safeway at 1:00 this morning, I caught a BBC interview with former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. I drove around for about 30 minutes to listen to it (thus causing me to miss my pickle opportunity; by the time I got back to Safeway it was closed.), and Sandy Baby was getting slightly exasperated at the British interviewer.
Though she expressed dismay over the lack of women on the SCOTUS, when the interviewer started to mention it, O'Connor was quick to point out that Britain wasn't doing much better in terms of women in the judiciary. She corrected the reporter's "unfortunate terms" several times, including: "swing vote," "activist judge," "sides" [in terms of taking sides, a liberal side, a conservative side], "political," etc.
The interviewer kept mentioning the court's role in hot-button social issues, and O'Connor was really reluctant to talk about it; she kept saying variants of "as I already explained to you," or "as I said earlier," followed by claims that the justices rule on the merits, not on ideology. You can tell she was getting rather annoyed by the route this interview was going down. And then the interviewer brought up Bush v. Gore. O'Connor's main defense for her own position here is that "it didn't change the outcome." The reporter kind of accepted her story, but I kept thinking that that is the most idiotic excuse for 1) taking a case that should not have even been heard by SCOTUS, and 2) making a decision that went against precedent and then saying that this case does not make precedent and cannot be applied to other decisions.
Regardless of the fact that it is in fact not "obvious" that Bush v. Gore did not affect who won the Presidency, even had it not, that doesn't legitimate the Court's decision. I don't even understand that logic. I don't think she does either, and if the spate of recent "insider" books about the Supreme Court mean anything, she came to regret that decision (though not so much as Souter, who almost resigned over it).
But, anyway, I really did enjoy hearing her, and hearing her get annoyed at the interviewer reminded me of good times listening to oral arguments when she would get frustrated with the lawyers. I often didn't agree with her judicial opinions, but I really do like her. Also, I am glad that she is involved in work to educate people about the court and to maintain judicial independence. With people like John Cornyn rationalizing violence against judges, and the cries against "activist" judges growing louder and louder, someone needs to be standing up to educate the American public on the necessity of a judicial branch that is truly independent.