July 4, 2004

Justice O'Connor.

Charles Lane has a terrific article in today's Washington Post Magazine called "Courting O'Connor/Why the chief justice isn't the Chief Justice." For law students who may resist thinking about the Supreme Court Justices as individuals, with their own styles of thinking, this would be a great place to start.

There is a lot of great information about her upbringing (living on a ranch, "[f]or playmates, O'Connor had lizards, a bobcat, horses with names such as Chico and Hemorrhoid, and a handful of leathery cowboys, who taught her how to ride and cope with cactus thorns"), her education (she was influenced by "an eclectic law professor named Harry J. Rathbun ... [who] taught business law during the week and led discussion groups on psychology, religion and ethics at his home on Sunday evenings"), her appointment to the Court ("much of her face-to-face meeting with Reagan was taken up by a discussion of horseback riding and mending fences on the Lazy B"), and her role on the Court.

Her importance as a swing voter is aptly explained. I liked this quote from Georgetown lawprof Richard Lazarus:
"What I do, and what I advise people arguing cases, is to treat all the justices with great respect," says Lazarus, who also practices before the court. "But . . . when Justice O'Connor asks a question at oral argument, every advocate would be well advised to answer in full, and pause and look at her, because nothing is more important to you than making sure you've addressed her concerns. With the others, it may not make a difference."

No comments: