July 1, 2005
A member of the Supreme Court has stepped down today and it's not who you might think. Surprisingly it wasn't really Renquist putting in his resignation; it was Sandra Day O'Connor--the first woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.
The announcement came as such a surprise that even her "son" didn't
know in advance. Now that the world is out, the tributes are pouring in for retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
"Her wisdom, intellect, and humility have earned her deep respect from colleagues, even those with opposing judicial philosophies," said Senator Bill Frist.
"She was a careful and thoughtful and highly respected member of the court; a wise judge who served the nation," said Senator Ted Kennedy.
Appointed by Ronald Reagan as the first woman on the Court, O'Connor has served for 24 years. In a statement, O'Connor said she's 75 years old and she wants to spend more time with her family.
"She has more energy than any person I have ever met in my life, so retirement is not going to slow her down," said Ann Day, O'Connor's sister.
During her tenure, O'Connor became known as a centrist who served as the swing vote on a number of high profile decisions, including abortion, the death penalty, and civil rights.
When asked at her Senate Confirmation hearings how she's like to be remembered, she said on her tombstone she'd like the words: "Here lies a Good Judge."
"I'm proud to know her," said President Bush.
Bush says he'll name a successor in a timely manner, but not until he returns from a European trip on July 8, 2005. Bush promises he'll consult with both parties about his selection.
"The nation also deserves a dignified process of confirmation in the United States Senate, characterized by fair treatment, a fair hearing and a fair vote," said Bush.
Experts say Justice O'Connor's departure will trigger an enormous battle between liberal and conservative groups trying to influence the president's decision. It's a battle some say will be worthy of a presidential campaign.