Wanted: judicial independence

Seattle Times: The retirement of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor sets in motion a hot nomination battle unseen since Robert Bork was defeated in 1987.
Bring it on. When the smoke clears, O'Connor's successor should be a sharp legal theorist with an independent mind and an impressive ability to bridge ideologies.
Much like O'Connor herself.
The court's first female jurist leaves behind a 24-year legacy of thoughtful and pragmatic opinions. O'Connor, 75, performed an essential role as the swing vote on a court divided on many fundamental questions. O'Connor wrote the persuasive, narrowly crafted decision allowing affirmative-action programs at state universities. Most recently, she was part of a narrow majority reaffirming the constitutional principle of government neutrality toward religion.
O'Connor was not predictable. But O'Connor's voice has been consistent in upholding the constitutional right to privacy and reproductive choice.
The court needs another moderate-independent vote. It needs a judicial compass much like the one wielded by O'Connor. This is no time to change directions.

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