JUSTICE SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR AND CORRECTIONS
Christopher E. Smith
BETWEEN THE POLAR PERSPECTIVES
O’CONNOR’S INFLUENCE: EIGHTH AMENDMENT
III. O’CONNOR’S MOST INFLUENTIAL OPINION
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE
During her 25-year career on the United States Supreme Court, from
1981 until 2006,
Justice Sandra Day O‟Connor was a key figure in
controversial decisions shaping law and policy.
Although Ronald Reagan, a
conservative president, appointed her with the hope that she would help to
limit federal judges‟ involvement in public policy,
Reagan‟s supporters in many cases.
For example, the key vote she provided
Professor of Criminal Justice, Michigan State University. A.B., 1980, Harvard
University; M.Sc., 1981, University of Bristol (England); J.D., 1984, University of Tennessee;
Ph.D., 1988, University of Connecticut.
Sandra Day O‟Connor was appointed to the United States Supreme Court by
President Ronald Reagan in 1981. HENRY J. ABRAHAM, JUSTICES & PRESIDENTS:
HISTORY OF APPOINTMENTS TO THE SUPREME COURT 330-39 (2d ed. 1985). Justice O‟Connor
announced her resignation from the Court in 2005. William Branigin, Fred Barbash & Daniela
Supreme Court Justice O’Connor Resigns
, WASH. POST, July 1, 2005,
However, she did not actually leave the Court until Justice Samuel Alito replaced her.
Alito Is Sworn In After 58-42 Vote to Confirm Him
, N.Y. TIMES, Jan. 31, 2006,
MARK TUSHNET, A COURT DIVIDED:
THE REHNQUIST COURT AND THE
FUTURE OF CONSTITUTIONAL LAW 54 (2005) (“Academics used some statistical techniques to
measure the power of individual Justices. O‟Connor did indeed come in first according to
some measures. . . . . There was no question, however, about O‟Connor‟s importance because
her vote seemed often up for grabs.”).
DAVID ALISTAIR YALOF, PURSUIT OF JUSTICES:
PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS AND
THE SELECTION OF SUPREME COURT NOMINEES 134 (1999) (“This was a criteria-driven
selection framework to be sure, but the most important criteria were ideological. In short, the
Reagan administration wanted to sponsor ardently conservative candidates for the high
JAN CRAWFORD GREENBURG, SUPREME CONFLICT:
THE INSIDE STORY OF
THE STRUGGLE FOR CONTROL OF THE UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT 28 (2007) (“More often
than not, on the big cases involving contentious social issues, O‟Connor and Kennedy—or
both of them together—would join the four liberals to rule against conservative positions.”).