Tony Beam Dr. Tony Beam's Weblog
- 2005 Jul 04
My father often used a familiar pharse to describe the intense anticipation I experienced as teachers were readying school report cards for parental viewing. He said it was like, "waiting for the other shoe to drop." I was clueless to the meaning of this phrase until he explained that when he was a little boy, he would always be sent to bed before his father and, while lying in the quite of the night waiting for sleep to come, he would hear his father drop one of his shoes to the floor. He would then lay awake with heightened anticipation until he heard the second shoe hit the floor.
Late last week, the first shoe, in a political battle that will shape the United States Supreme Court for years to come, hit the floor. It was not the shoe everyone expected. Instead of being the right shoe of Chief Justice William Rehnquist, it was the left shoe of first female Justice Sandra Day O'Conner. Some conservative groups semed to be divided over Justice O'Conner's legacy but no matter how you slice it she was a major disappointment for Christian conservatives.
Appointed by President Reagan, (who later admitted in his autobiography to be surprised by some of her decisions) O'Conner was touted as a social conservative who would help reverse Roe v. Wade. Instead, she voted twice in major cases (Planned Parenthood v. Casey and Stenberg v. Carhart) to uphold and actually crystallize abortion rights as some sort of constitutional sacred cow.
She also voted with the majority in Lawrence v. Texas, which legalized sodomy and opened the door for a state by state and ultimately, federal constitutional battle over same sex marriage. She was one of the first Justices to call for the Supreme Court to look to international law as a guide for rendering its decisions. While it is true she rightly dissented and expressed outrage at the recent Supreme Court decision to nullify private property rights, she then voted twice to remove the Ten Commandments from public display spotlighting her completely convoluted understanding of Church and State issues.
In a strictly historical sense, O'Conner will be remembered as the first female jurist on the Court. But her legacy will be one of a swing voter who could be consistently