Sandra Day O’Connor will always be referred to as the first woman to sit on the Supreme Court. No one can take that accomplishment away from her. Not even she herself. The legacy of her triumph will never be quite what it was before the year 2000, however, and for that Sandra Day O’Connor can blame nobody but herself.
The long, sordid history of political scandals in America involves sex, revenge, paranoia and abuse of power. A very few involve petty and unwarranted fears by those that have turned the lives of millions upside and sent America off her rails. While some scandals have hurt only those powers involved, the worst scandals have wrought unknown damage to American and her citizens. It touches upon the ironic without fully reaching the precipice of appropriate usage of that too often misunderstood and misappropriated word that the single greatest political scandal in American history turned upon the emotional disapprobation of the first female Supreme Court justice. It is, indeed, almost enough to make one consider temporarily that those whose minds have shut to the idea of women being in power because of a mythical hysteria attached to all of their gender may have actually been onto something. Of course, the fact that males acting sheerly upon their own hysterical emotions were deeply involved in this hurtful scandal undoes any such desire to allow one’s mind to meander into the marshy moors of such modest mental acuity as to suggest that women need no longer apply for jobs allegedly involving at least a modicum degree of logic.
The worst political scandal in America history is also one of the most recent. The will of the American people was ignored, denied and found to be lacking in import. Five Supreme Court justices, including Antonin Scalia and his blackfaced ventriloquist dummy Clarence Thomas, decided that their desire to elevate George W. Bush to the Presidency overruled the fact that the majority of Americans wanted Al Gore as their next President. Sandra Day O’Connor, another Justice who ruled against the will of the American people, grew nearly apoplectic on election night when it was first reported that Al Gore had won Florida as she had vocally expressed that she would be reluctant to retire if a Democrat were elected President in 2000.
Newsweek reported that upon first hearing Dan Rather-and why Sandra Day O’Connor wasn’t watching Fox News on election night is one of those cosmic mysteries up there with how Keanu Reeves continues to have a career-she grew visibly stricken with the blood draining from her face as she gave into that perhaps not entirely mythical female hysteria that men for millennia have used as their methodology for strictly enforcing a misogynistic approach to dealing with women in positions of power and cried out, “This is terrible!”
Let me reiterate: That Al Gore was announced by CBS News as having won Florida was met with the anguished cry of “This is terrible” by one of the people who would shortly be charged with the responsibility of choosing the President of the United States after that decision had been withdrawn from its citizens.
You see, Sandra Day O’Connor had grown old on the bench of the highest court in the land. Her husband had grown old and feeble and needed her help. But Justice O’Connor could not retire while the Democrat Bill Clinton was President. To be replaced with a liberal was simply not something up with which Sandra Day O’Conner could put. Since the country was far better off after eight years of Democrat rule than it had been when George Herbert Walker Bush slunk away in the disgrace of a recession that saw jobs being lost at a rate that America would not see again until his son was in office, what Sandra Day O’Connor needed more than anything was a miracle. How could the Republicans possibly get back into power again, especially with a candidate named George Bush, when so many new millionaires had been created under the administration of Bill Clinton and Al Gore? It would take nothing less than a miracle, especially when the votes were counted and the country confirmed that it wanted four more years of Democratic rule and nothing more to do with the Bush would-be dynasty. Justice Sandra Day O’Conner watched Dan Rather say the words she most desperately wanted not to hear and knew she would have to stay in Washington for another four years.
Except that Justice O’Connor is one of those people fortunate enough to ensure they get their wish. That night Sandra Day O’Connor wished for a miracle and lo and behold a miracle occurred. The woman who said that she would be reluctant to retire under a Democrat President and the woman from whose face all the blood drained when she briefly thought Albert Gore had been elected President was provided with nothing less than her own personal miracle. As a result of that personal miracle of Sandra Day O’Connor America got Samuel Alito serving on the highest court in the land, two wars with no foreseeable end, a government that tortures foreigners and spies on its own people, and an economy brought to the precipice of collapse.
Join me, please, in offering my best wishes to Sandra Day O’Connor that she truly enjoys her retirement. After all, that early retirement only came at the cost of her legacy, reputation, and honor.