Sandra Day O`Connor on Principles & Values



Ok to mention God in banners in public schools

A few years ago some lawyers approached my wife and me to inform us that our "THINK BIG" banners could no longer be displayed in public schools. Because G stands for God, they felt that was clearly a violation of the establishment clause of the First Amendment. We informed them that the First Amendment prohibits government suppression of religious expression and a rather vigorous argument ensued. I was going to the Supreme Court the very next week to receive the Jefferson Award, and I figured I would ask Justice Sandra Day O'Connor while I was there. I did, and she said they had no idea what they were talking about, and that of course you could put such a banner in a public school without violating any part of the Constitution. The audacity of some of the secularists who try to get God out of everything with no legitimate legal backing is astonishing, and they must be challenged and their objections defeated if our value system is to survive.
Source: America the Beautiful, by Ben Carson, p.193 , Jan 24, 2012

Served in Arizona as State Senator and trial judge

Sandra Day O'Connor, the 1st woman to be appointed to the US Supreme Court, serving from 1981 to 2006, is renowned for her political independence and pragmatic decisions. As a moderate conservative on a polarized court, she often casts the swing vote on contentious issues. Prior to her nomination to the Supreme Court, O'Connor served in Arizona as assistant attorney general, trial judge, state senator, and member of the Arizona Court of Appeals.
Source: Be the Change, by Michelle Nunn, p.201 , Nov 1, 2006

State endorsing religion as bad as establishing religion

The Court has struggled for consistency in its decisions under Establishment Clause of the First Amendment prohibiting laws "respecting an establishment of religion." Justice O'Connor proved highly creative in this sensitive area of church-state relations. She created a new concept or principle in the law: the idea of "endorsement." That is, in her view, a violation of the Establishment Clause occurs when government "endorses" religion or religious practice.

What did this mean? O'Connor stated the idea at a high level of generality. Government could not make one's religious beliefs, or lack thereof, relevant to one's standing in the political community. To do so would effect an "endorsement" of religion (or, conversely, irreligion).

What about the nation's motto, "In God We Trust?" Is this an endorsement of religion? Surely it is, many of us would say. Others would say the national motto is merely an acknowledgement of our history and tradition, not rising to the level of an endorsement.

Source: First Among Equals, by Kenneth Starr, p. 32-33 , Oct 10, 2002

Bush v. Gore: can't recount votes fairly across counties

The Court reversed the Florida Supreme Court decision ordering manual recount of presidential election ballots. A majority agreed that the recount violated the Constitution's equal protection clause, since counting standards varied among counties. The decision effectively ended the presidential election, handing a victory to George W. Bush.
Source: InfoPlease.com on 2000 SCOTUS case Gore v. Bush , Dec 11, 2000

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Other Justices on Principles & Values: Sandra Day O`Connor on other issues:
Samuel Alito(since 2006)
Stephen Breyer(since 1994)
Ruth Bader Ginsburg(since 1993)
Elena Kagan(since 2010)
Anthony Kennedy(since 1988)
John Roberts(since 2005)
Sonia Sotomayor(since 2009)
Clarence Thomas(since 1991)

Former Justices:
Merrick Garland(nominated 2016)
Antonin Scalia(1986-2016)
John Paul Stevens(1975-2010)
David Souter(1990-2009)
Sandra Day O'Connor(1981-2006)
William Rehnquist(1975-2005)

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Page last updated: Feb 02, 2020