Biden and Chief Justice Roberts honor Justice O’Connor in funeral tributes

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By Carina

In a moving ceremony at the Washington National Cathedral, President Joe Biden and Chief Justice John Roberts paid homage to the late Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, a monumental figure in American jurisprudence.

O’Connor, remembered as a pioneer and a symbol of progress in the legal realm, was celebrated for her indelible impact on both the nation and the Supreme Court.

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President Biden honors Justice O’Connor’s legacy

President Biden reflected on O’Connor’s extraordinary journey, highlighting her unique role in American history.

He expressed, “A daughter of the American West was a pioneer in her own right, breaking down the barriers in the legal and political worlds and the nation’s consciousness.”

Biden characterized O’Connor’s tenure on the Supreme Court as a crucial safeguard of American values and vision.

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Biden praises O’Connor’s impact and vision

He emphasized, “was a vital, vital line of defense for the values and the vision of our republic, devoted not to the pursuit of power for power’s sake but to make real the promise of America.”

Biden also underscored O’Connor’s distinctive background as a former elected official, which he believed deepened her understanding of the law’s tangible effects on individuals.

He lauded her for empowering women and setting a new standard of excellence in the judiciary.

Roberts’ reflections: The unique style of Justice O’Connor

Chief Justice Roberts offered insights into Justice O’Connor’s approach to legal proceedings.

He described her method as distinct, focusing on clarity and directness. “After the advocate had gotten through only a couple sentences, the justice would jump in before her colleagues could with a well-prepared question.”

“The question was clear, direct, and even enunciated carefully. It went to the heart of the lawyer’s case with no fluff,” Roberts noted. He admired her pragmatism and ability to cut to the core of arguments swiftly.

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Chief Justice Roberts highlights O’Connor’s resilient journey

Roberts further delved into the numerous obstacles O’Connor overcame, including the gender biases prevalent in her early career.

“Sandra Day O’Connor had to study and launch a career in the law when most men in the established profession did not want women lawyers, let alone judges,” he recounted.

Her journey was marked by resilience and excellence, setting a precedent for future generations.

Justice O’Connor: A legacy of balance and influence

Justice O’Connor’s role as a pivotal figure in the Supreme Court was underscored by her position as a moderate voice on an otherwise conservative bench.

Her death on December 1, at age 93, marked the end of an era for the Court. The funeral service, attended by notable figures, was a testament to her significant contributions.

The ceremony also featured personal reflections from Jay O’Connor, one of her sons, and her biographer, Evan Thomas.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in a ceremony at the Supreme Court where O’Connor lay in repose, described her as a “life role model.”

O’Connor’s impactful tenure and lasting legacy

Appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981, O’Connor’s role as a crucial swing vote on the then-closely divided court was highlighted.

Her retirement in 2006 ended a notable chapter in the Court’s history, and her moderate rulings have faced challenges in the Court’s recent conservative shift.

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s journey from the American West to the highest court in the land was a story of breaking barriers and setting new precedents.

Her legacy as a trailblazer, a moderate voice, and a role model continues to resonate in the legal world and beyond. 

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