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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Justice O'Connor and the ERA

I recently finished the new Sandra Day O'Connor biography by Evan Thomas. There is much to chew in her life story (especially about what people want from judges). One interesting thread is how her public life was shaped by the Equal Rights Amendment. (Even failed amendments have consequences.)

Part of the book covers the debate on the ERA in the Arizona Legislature when O'Connor served there. She was pretty cagey about that issue due to the surrounding politics. (Arizona did not and still has not ratified the ERA.) In a sense, though, this contributed to her moderate Republican image that ended up helping her become the first woman on the Court.

Moreover, Justice O'Connor was selected largely because Ronald Reagan, who opposed the ERA, tried to make up for that position during the 1980 campaign by pledging that he would appoint a woman to the first Court vacancy he faced. What she said about the ERA later I do not know, though of course she authored and joined opinions that furthered sex equality under the Equal Protection Clause.


Posted by Gerard Magliocca on April 16, 2019 at 11:11 AM | Permalink


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