A cowgirl checks out

Sandra Day O'Connor, who died yesterday in Phoenix, was a very big deal, but she never acted like it. The first woman on the U.S. Supreme Court, and for many years the only woman on that Court, she was the swing vote in a lot of cases. And she typically sought out a middle ground, on which most people could agree. She was an old-school Republican, in the days when there was such a thing as moderates. Alas, some of you may be too young to remember such a time.

The New York Times hard-copy obituary coverage today gives Justice O'Connor her due. The front page story, albeit below the fold, jumps to three full pages inside. And there's a sidebar of another third of a page floating around inside as well. All that on a Saturday, when they usually keep the print edition skinny.

I saw her up close once, after she retired. She was more impressive than I had expected. Maybe I'm prejudiced, but to me the people in that job now can't hold a candle to her.

Like her law school classmate and later Supreme colleague, Bill Rehnquist, Sandra Day was a graduate of my alma mater, Stanford Law School. That was in another time, too, when you could be proud of the affiliation. Nowadays, it's a mess down there.

One of Justice O'Connor's big causes was civics education. Boy, do we need that, now more than ever. There's so much less of it going around than there used to be. And with all the garbage rattling around on both ends of the political spectrum, there's not much left in between. What's that you say, Mrs. Robinson? Sandra Day has left and gone away. 

She's missed.


  1. O’Connor attended Stanford about the same time as a cousin of mine. He was also very smart and also a class act like O’Connor. I once asked him if he met her. He said no. But, he remembered socializing with Gary Crosby

  2. Her blistering dissent in Yale vs Kelo (I'm not certain if this is correct) is brilliant.

  3. Idk, the Reagan appointed court seemed about as rotten, but considered institutionally legitimate, which I’d argue makes it materially kinda worse?

    This court is extra rotten, but so much so that it undermines its own legitimacy, which is kinda nice…would have been nice to have had that outlook back then, though?

    Stanford, much like George mason’s centrist snd Cato trash factory is challenging my ability to not say ‘burn these institutions to the ground’ they exist only to produce annoying people & as a malign influence on the rest of us.

    Then again, of the various genders or higher education, what have we got these days?
    -land grant (not really sustainable/imperialist & crimes of the settler colony & all, but also I’d say most defensible for admin costs, quality of education and sheer #s for accessibility today?)
    -sports, spectacle stadium, & kid abuse and molestation franchise (obviously terrible, skirts title 9)
    -real estate scam (Drexel, John’s Hopkins, NYU come to mind the most)…either take sick peoples houses or become a real estate scam or hedge fund, destroying engineering & medical research at low cost or displacing people in major industrial cities.
    -military & military industrial & spook feeder. Might be at least vaguely meritocratic (at best), but the broader project is also usually used to maximally evil ends.
    -degree mill/ predatory grade inflation scam
    -foreign student & wealthy private liberal arts.
    -think tank and fail son centrist trash factory (almost no one even knows who Leland Standford was & U.Chicago they couldn’t put the dudes name on as NO ONE wanted that association (Rockefeller).

    It’s cool that some real eccentrics & weirdos founded schools in the USA compared to the more conventional & boring I bad European institutes, but the endowments are ridiculous for the outcomes we get here & what a chore going to college looks like it is is now &/or costly.

    Accordingly, being neither a liberal nor a conservative, I say we abolish both the Ivy League/most of college, most golf/sports, but not green space & the Supreme Court!
    This is a grand bargain I could get behind!

  4. She helped W steal into the White House, signing onto a corrupt powerplay that led to the anointment of Alito and Roberts and thus the gutting of the Voting Rights Act and the idea that rigging the system in your favor so extensively as to produce elections that would shame Cuba (gerrymandering) is not something that courts have anything to say about. She was thus enormously consequential, and we are suffering the consequences indeed.

    1. Bush v. Gore looks pretty tame now.

    2. Yes, Pandora’s action seems tame once the furies fly out … but it was Pandora who released them.

    3. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/12/03/opinion/sandra-day-oconnor-clerk.html?unlocked_article_code=1.DE0.gVgV.AJtrtq8YH-cg&smid=nytcore-ios-share&referringSource=articleShare%0AI%20Clerked%20for%20Justice%20O%E2%80%99Connor.%20She%20Was%20My%20Hero,%20but%20I%20Worry%20About%20Her%20Legacy.%0A

    4. ^ agree with this; Bush v. Gore has been materially worse (not that Gore was any prize or a gore presidency was likely to be *great*, regardless) & our institutions, including the court are pretty rotten and largely incapable of producing good outcomes, even if we wanted them to.

      O’Connor is pretty rotten; first woman; but a mediocrity with bad policies.
      Maybe not as…um…awful and insane in her beliefs as Thomas as the other late Reagan & HW Bush Sr ID politics appointed nor as cartoonishly publicly corrupt & gross (though I kinda agree with Thomas in how he views liberals/find it at least vaguely coherent, but what he wants to do about it as the supposed alternative sounds nuts & what he writes about women or his own color seems particularly insane to uncharitable/ blanket low opinion at best?).

      College is a sinking ship being stripped and gutted for parts/hollowed out for the copper wiring with various hangers on to pieces of wood for the most part (especially public higher education & over-stretched private colleges that are expensive to run without a big pot of money and expensive tuition without alums that are all that much of a ‘draw’) with life boat morality at this late date, regardless of who gets triggered by what issue.

  5. Unlike the current radical left, she listened to, and considered, all sides of a political issue before writing an opinion.

    1. Hi Pot, nice to meet you. My name is Kettle

    2. I try to avoid a tempest.

  6. No Furies…more like the flying monkeys at the court and in congress!


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