sandra day o'connor 2 justice o'connor.jpgBack in July 2005, shortly after Justice Sandra Day O’Connor announced her resignation from the Supreme Court, Professor Orin Kerr wrote an L.A. Times op-ed about how the Court might be affected by her departure. Its provocative title: O’Connor’s Successor Will Likely Be a Swinger.
We were reminded of Professor Kerr’s op-ed when we read this piece, by SOC biographer Joan Biskupic, in USA Today:

Retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s husband, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, has found a new romance, and his happiness is a relief to his wife, an Arizona TV report reveals.

The report, which quoted the couple’s oldest son, Scott O’Connor, focused on Alzheimer’s patients who forget their spouses and fall in love with someone else. Experts say the scenario is somewhat common.

[T]he report spotlighted John O’Connor, 77. He and the woman, referred to only as “Kay,” live at a Phoenix facility for people with Alzheimer’s.

A lesser woman might be troubled by the December-December romance. But Justice O’Connor, who understands the nature of her husband’s devastating illness, is fine with it — in fact, more than fine:

“Mom was thrilled that Dad was relaxed and happy and comfortable living here and wasn’t complaining,” Scott, 50, told KPNX-Channel 12 in Phoenix in a story that aired Thursday. The station is owned by Gannett, as is USA TODAY….

Scott compared his father to “a teenager in love” and said, “For Mom to visit when he’s happy … visiting with his girlfriend, sitting on the porch swing holding hands,” was a relief after a painful period.

In any event, Justice O’Connor is too busy with her own work to be consumed by petty jealousies. Her busy schedule of meetings and speaking engagements has kept her on the road, both nationally and internationally. Recently she was in Paris — c’est magnifique!
Earlier today, SOC spoke at Columbia Law School. A report on her visit appears after the jump.


Her speech was focused on how to balance civil liberties and security. But observers were more struck by how grumpy the justice was:

She stopped in the middle of her speech to tell the photographer to take a hike, and blew off basically every question that the audience asked her at the end. One student, his voice quivering with fear, asked her why she had only provided limited procedural protections to Hamdi. She basically said: “I don’t have to defend myself to you.”

We love it! Being a Supreme Court justice means never having to say you’re sorry — or explain yourself.
(Yeah, we know, there are those pesky things called “written opinions,” in which the justices purport to explain themselves. But when it comes to SOC, let’s not delude ourselves. As many authors have noted, including Jeffrey Toobin and Jan Crawford Greenburg, the famously decisive O’Connor was known for making up her mind first, and finding the reasoning later. And many — including, for example, Justice Antonin Scalia — found the reasoning wanting.)
Anyway, back to our tipster:

The only question she really seemed interested in answering was about the ranch she grew up on; she cut off a professor mid-way through a question about her childhood pet pony. It was not a pony; it was a small horse. And its name was Chico.

And what about the most important part of any judicial sight-ation: How was SOC looking?

She was wearing some kind of shiny deep purple quilted-looking shirt and (maybe?) black pants. She stood for the whole hour, despite having a tall chair behind the podium.

Interesting. It appears that Justice O’Connor has recovered nicely from whatever it was that confined her to a wheelchair, at a speaking engagement here in DC earlier this month.
(Shameless plug: Speaking of appearances at Columbia Law School, we’ll be speaking there next Tuesday, November 20th, at 12:25 p.m. Mark your calendars!)
A new page in O’Connors’ love story [USA Today]
O’Connor on the Temporary Disabled List [The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times]
O’Connor’s Successor Will Likely Be a Swinger [Los Angeles Times]
New Order – Bizarre Love Triangle [YouTube]


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