Law: Establishing Her Independence

Sandra Day O'Connor is still conservative, but on her own terms

During the nearly five years since she took her place on the high bench, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor has provided a reasonably dependable third vote for the U.S. Supreme Court's conservative wing. In a number of crucial cases, however, O'Connor has begun to split from her usual allies, Chief Justice Warren Burger and William Rehnquist, and has sometimes cast the decisive vote that yields a liberal result. Says Michael McDonald, general counsel of the conservative American Legal Foundation: "I wonder if she is traveling the route blazed by Justice Blackmun." Harry Blackmun, who moved from a close identification with the Chief...

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