Justice Sandra Day O'Connor unquestionably was the most powerful woman in America but she was not the centrist or liberal that many have portrayed her as being.
Though the swing justice in many controversial cases, O'Connor far more often voted with her conservative colleagues than not, particularly in cases pitting state autonomy against federal impositions.
More important, O'Connor was one of the most reliable guardians of individual liberty against government excesses. Whether siding with homeowners against eminent-domain abuse or with parents seeking to exercise school choice against teacher unions, O'Connor more often than not protected precious individual liberties.
In choosing a new justice, President Bush should keep firmly in mind the central role of the federal judiciary in safeguarding freedom against majoritarian excesses.
First published in the Arizona Republic, July 5, 2005.
-Cato Institute: "Two Cheers for Sandra Day O'Connor"
-Justice O'Connor's dissent in the eminent domain case, Kelo v. City of New London
-Justice O'Connor's dissent in the federalism and states rights case, Gonzales v. Raich
-Justice O'Connor biographical information