A Special Anniversary for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor

Supreme Court Justice, Sandra Day O’Connor, is a fascinating and intriguing figure to Lawyer Librarian Julie Graves Krishnasawmi; so much so that she mentioned that, July 7th, was the 30th anniversary of her confirmation to the United States Supreme Court.

In 2008, Julie authored Justice Sandra Day O’Connor: A Selected Annotated Bibliography, which was published in the Catholic University Law Review. Below is a selection of books found in the collection, which Julie annotated in her article. Julie’s complete annotated bibliography, which includes over 100 titles, is available here, on SSRN. And I have no doubt, that if you too find Sandra Day O’Connor to an interesting and fascinating Justice, Julie would love to chat with you (her door is always open).

SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR & ALAN DAY, LAZY B: GROWING UP ON A CATTLE RANCH IN THE AMERICAN SOUTHWEST (2002). This biography, written by Justice O’Connor and her brother Alan Day, is an account ofgrowing up on the Lazy B Ranch on the border of New Mexico and Arizona, along the Gila River. The book reflects the great influence that the ranch, the western heritage, and her parents, affectionately known as “Da” and “Mo,” hadon Justice O’Connor. An underlying theme is survival and hard work––of the Day family, its ranch hands, cattle and other wildlife––in spite of the harsh desert environment of the land of the Lazy B. It includes a reflection on the local history of this area as well as several photographs depicting the ranch, the Day family, and the well-loved ranch hands and cowboys.

ROBERT W. VAN SICKEL, NOT A PARTICULARLY DIFFERENT VOICE:THE JURISPRUDENCE OF SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR (1998). In the Introduction, the author notes that several commentators describe Justice O’Connor as a “moderate” voice on the Supreme Court. However, he also observes that “[w]hether this moderation might not simply demonstrate a shifting of the Court’s ostensible ideological center, or whether O’Connor’s supposed shift is merely indicative of the substantive types of cases which the Court has chosen to hear in recent terms, are questions which have received much less attention.” Van Sickel posits that since Justice O’Connor joined the Supreme Court in 1981, her opinions and votes in cases have been “broadly consistent with the Reagan Administration’s policy agenda.” The study sets out to answer four related questions about Justice O’Connor:(1) whether there is an “overarching normative legal philosophy which ‘drives’ O’Connor’s behavior and thinking on the bench”; (2) whether any “‘formal’ theories of judicial behavior” contribute to “understanding O’Connor’s approach to adjudication”; (3) whether Justice O’Connor views have evolved; and (4) whether “Justice O’Connor ‘fits’ into the Supreme Court of the last fifteen years.” To answer these questions, Van Sickel synthesizes cases (particularly those decided in Justice O’Connor’s first decade on the Court), examines other substantive materials written about Justice O’Connor, and examines her legislative voting record and opinions drafted on the Maricopa County Superior Court and Arizona Court of Appeals.  Van Sickel concludes the Introduction by stating that “Justice O’Connor consistently exhibits . . . a ‘marginalist’ approach to legal and political questions.” Her adjudication is within the context of “an essentially conservative political ideology.” Each chapter begins with an interesting and introspective quotation from Justice O’Connor.  The work also includes a thorough bibliography

NANCY MAVEETY, JUSTICE SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR: STRATEGIST ON THE SUPREME COURT (1996). Maveety observes that, at the time this book was written, analysis about Justice O’Connor focused on her “famous firsts.” In this work, Maveety aims to provide a more balanced view of Justice O’Connor, revealing the Justice to be “a key strategist shaping the collective outputs of the Burger and Rehnquist Courts.” Specifically, Maveety discusses Justice O’Connor’s contributions to the development of constitutional law, and Maveety observes and explores three aspects of her jurisprudence in this work. They include her “fact-based decision-making accurately described as contextual conservatism[,] . . . her coalitionalpredilections . . . to join the winning side of a 5–4 majority on the Court,” and her use of “concurring opinions to shape the development of legal doctrine.” Maveety’s chapters focus on Justice O’Connor’s personal and professional background.

JOAN BISKUPIC, SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR: HOW THE FIRST WOMAN ON THE SUPREME COURT BECAME ITS MOST INFLUENTIAL JUSTICE (2005). Although Justice O’Connor would not meet with Biskupic for this book, Biskupic relied on a wide range of sources for this substantial biography, including Justice O’Connor’s Supreme Court colleagues, family members, and former colleagues. The biography weaves the stories of Justice O’Connor’s personal and professional experiences and includes extensive discussions about her landmark cases and her jurisprudence as it shaped the areas of race discrimination, religion, and abortion, among others. Biskupic also reflects on Justice O’Connor’s nomination and confirmation to the Supreme Court as well as relationships with each of her Supreme Court brethren. Biskupic’s work includes endnotes to numerous sources, including the Day family archival materials and papers of former Supreme Court Justices, upon which she relies for her analysis.