Maintaining a moderate tradition

The United States is best served when the Supreme Court has a balanced ideology.

Sandra Day O’Connor was appointed by former President Ronald Reagan as the first woman ever to serve on the Supreme Court. Her uniqueness does not end there. She was one of the only centrist voices on the nine-member court during her 24 years on the bench. Her decisions played pivotal roles on some of the most controversial cases of the last two and half decades, siding with both liberal and conservative members of the divided court. With Justice O’Connor’s unexpected retirement, it is essential that President George W. Bush fills her seat with someone equally as independent as she.

The Supreme Court’s power is immense and its decisions take precedence over all other courts in the nation. It is held in a higher regard than other courts, not only because of its power but because of its autonomy from politics. Presidents should not chose justices simply to vote lock-step with conservative or liberal members. To do so would relegate the court to a tug-of-war of ideologies, rather than a deliberative body making decisions according to a case-by-case basis. Moreover, this type of judge would further politicize what is supposed to be an apolitical body.

The majority of U.S. citizens identify as either moderate or independent, especially when it comes to hot-button social issues such as abortion, affirmative action and gay marriage. These types of cases will certainly make their way to the new Supreme Court. A court that is tilted right or left would not serve the best interests of the majority of Americans.

Bush has said his model justices are Clarence Thomas and Antonio Scalia, two of the most conservative members of the court. He has also said he is a “uniter and not a divider.” With this judicial nomination, Bush has a real opportunity to be the “uniter” he has claimed to be. A judicial nomination in the tradition of Justice O’Connor would represent a commitment to the best interests of all U.S. citizens.