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William C. Altreuter
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Friday, July 01, 2005

Sandra Day O'Connor and William Rehnquist graduated at the top of their class together, and, of course, they ended up at the same place, but they took very different routes to get there. I can't help but admire O'Connor more, because hers was certainly the harder road, and it is interesting to think about the way her road has been reflected in her jurisprudence. More interesting at the moment, however, is to think about the way she announced her retirement. I'm sure the nine are all pretty chummy-- Ginsburg and Scalia's families have Thaksgiving together, which blows my mind, but whatever. You can't help but wonder what sort of relationship O'Connor and The Chief have had over the years. Does it chafe at all that Rehnquist's rise was so smooth? Does she feel like she got her props? Did she retire now to steal the spotlight, or did she wait to she what her classmate was going to do, defering an announcement until after the end of the term to give him a chance to step down first? She'll get her props now. Reinquist has been the focus of all the speculation, and he's been lauded all over, but now we are going to hear about Sandy Day, and with ample justification. It'd be hard to say that anyone else on the Court has had more influence since she made history by being appointed, and when you consider that it's liberals like me that are the most upset by her leaving-- notwithstanding the fact that "liberal" is just about the last word you could use to describe her-- you have to think that she deserves all the applause. I dispair of the US on a daily basis, and wonder what has become of a country with such potential, founded on such outstanding principals. When you consider that a person like Justice O'Connor is a product of this nation and this nation's principals it is possible to still believe that we may get through this.

I hope so. I look at the various short lists and I just shake my head.

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