Sandra Day O’Connor died today. The first woman to serve on the Supreme Court was 93 and had suffered from dementia for a number of years.
Appointed by President Reagan in 1981, O’Connor spent 24 years as a Supreme Court Justice, retiring in 2006. Her New YorkTimes obituary makes an interesting point: while O’Connor was considered a conservative, the current Supreme Court’s increasing right-wing bias makes many of her opinions and rulings appear (gasp!) downright liberal.
Her is a decidedly mixed judicial legacy.
As the Times notes, at her confirmation hearings, she was questioned about the issue of abortion. She “called the procedure ‘offensive’ and ‘repugnant,’ and said that ‘it is something in which I would not engage.’” Yet she defended Roe V. Wade on several occasions.
“One of her most influential roles,” according to Politico, “was in the 5-4 vote in Bush v. Gore, as she joined justices Anthony Kennedy, William Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas in a decision that led to George W. Bush’s 2000 election win.” The consequences of this hotly-contested election are still being felt – most especially in what is and what is not being done to stave off global warming and ecological collapse. Had Al Gore, a passionate environmentalist, reached the White House it is safe to say the planet’s health would be in far better shape than it is.
She supported affirmative action in college admissions. Reuters tells us: “O'Connor wrote in the ruling that colleges must strive for diversity ‘if the dream of one nation, indivisible, is to be realized.’” Reuters also informs the reader that her initial lack of support for gay rights changed over time. “In 1986 she voted to uphold a Georgia law prohibiting sexual relations between homosexuals but voted in 2003 to strike down a similar law in Texas.”
Comparing her to the most recent – Trump-appointed – Justices makes O’Connor seem like a figure from a distant past: a moderate who took the opinions of others into account, a judge who refused to enshrine her own morality as law.
A groundbreaking figure, indeed.
Keep reading...Show less
7 Books That Show the Truth About Poverty
Let's enlighten ourselves before we engage in class warfare.
Jan. 09, 2020
Looking out onto the landscape of 2020, we see the makings of a historic year–but not in the best ways. Natural disasters like bushfires, earthquakes, and hurricanes are becoming more common and worsening in intensity, and the divide between the rich and the poor keeps growing. In fact, over 38 million Americans live in poverty. But before we can discuss how to rectify the problem (let alone who's to blame for the institutional failures), we as a culture have a weak understanding of what poverty entails. Some critics mock millennials for not being able to afford iced coffee and avocado toast, while in actuality they're the poorest generation since World War II, having felt the financial strains of a recession and inflation. Meanwhile, elderly boomers are facing dire circumstances as they're looking to retire amidst an economy that can't sustain them.
The problem, of course, is that unless you've been young and coming-of-age under the weight of the economy's institutional failures and also entered the twilight of your life to find your savings unsustainable for modern living, you don't know what those experiences are like.
So before we engage in our next argument about the state of the world, let's enlighten ourselves with these books that illuminate the truth about poverty.
Betty Smith's "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" (1943)
Betty Smith based her iconic coming-of-age novel on her own experiences growing up in a poor Williamsburg neighborhood. The protagonist's struggles are punctuated with alternating tenderness and bitterness, turning Smith's novel into an American classic.
Related Articles Around the Web
- 10 enlightening books about poverty in America | Mal Warwick Blog ›
- List of books and articles about Poverty | Online Research Library ... ›
- 11 Books about Poverty and Development | Opportunity International ›
- 18 books that will change your perspective about poverty | Oxfam ›
- 17 books that will change your perspective about poverty this year ... ›
- 50 Best Books On Poverty – Best MSW Programs ›