Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Newsflash: O’Connor is Not Conservative

Joan Biskupic has an article about Justice Sandra Day O’Connor today entitled, oddly enough, "O’Connor Not Confined By Conservatism." Biskupic refers to O’Connor throughout as a Conservative--acknowledging at one point that "O’Connor is a conservative with an asterisk: a pragmatic jurist who, when she sees fit, will vote with the four liberal justices." This is the sort of silly categorization that leads liberals like Cass Sunstein to protest that there are no liberals on the Supreme Court--a statement that surely makes Ginsburg and Stevens feel like Rodney Dangerfield. This fits with a common trend among academics and the legal press to define judicial ideology to the right. Under this scheme, all the liberals are "moderates," the moderates are conservatives, and the conservatives are epithets. But O’Connor cannot run from her voting record. She has for years been at best a moderate, and is increasingly shifting not from conservative to moderate, but rather in cases raising issues such as campaign finance law, sovereign immunity, abortion, and affirmative action, she is shifting from moderate to liberal.

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Years ago, I read a news (I emphasize news) article in the Communist... er... I mean... the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in which the membership of the Supreme Court (the same then as now) was described as five conservatives and four moderates. I laughed out loud. And, I don’t much read that paper anymore.

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