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Reform Jewish Leader Responds to Retirement of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor
In response to the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued a statement noting "Beginning with her historic status as the first female appointed to the Supreme Court, Justice O’Connor’s careful, thoughtful, and wise voice of moderation shaped the Court and the country for a generation.....The individual chosen to fill the seat being vacated by Justice O’Connor will have significant influence over the Court’s direction and should be subject to a fair, thorough, and careful examination by the Senate."

Saperstein: Beginning with her historic status as the first female appointed to the Supreme Court, Justice O’Connor’s careful, thoughtful, and wise voice of moderation shaped the Court and the country for a generation.....The individual chosen to fill the seat being vacated by Justice O’Connor will have significant influence over the Court’s direction and should be subject to a fair, thorough, and careful examination by the Senate.

Contact: Alexis Rice or Barbara Weinstein
202.387.2800

Washington, July 1, 2005 – In response to the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

The retirement of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor sets the stage for what may well be a pivotal battle for the future of the Supreme Court. The stakes could not be higher.

Justice O’Connor, through her lifetime of public service and distinguished service on the High Court, deserves our thanks and our deep appreciation. Beginning with her historic status as the first female appointed to the Supreme Court, Justice O’Connor’s careful, thoughtful, and wise voice of moderation shaped the Court and the country for a generation. On issue after issue--from civil rights to religious liberty to, critically, reproductive rights--Justice O'Connor was the High Court's "swing vote." In case after case, she brought a searching and open-minded intellect to bear, oftentimes in powerful and memorable language. Just last week, as the Court ruled on two cases pertaining to the First Amendment, Justice O’Connor wrote in one of her last opinions, “Those who would renegotiate the boundaries between church and state must therefore answer a difficult question: Why would we trade a system that has served us so well for one that has served others so poorly?”

As President Bush now looks ahead to nominating a new Associate Justice, we strongly urge him to choose consultation over confrontation. As Justice O’Connor’s long tenure on the Court demonstrates, a justice appointed today will shape our nation for generations to come. The first Supreme Court vacancy in more than a decade should not be a moment for partisanship but rather a time to work across party lines to select jurists worthy of a lifetime appointment to our nation’s highest court.

The individual chosen to fill the seat being vacated by Justice O’Connor will have significant influence over the Court’s direction and should be subject to a fair, thorough, and careful examination by the Senate. We pledge to conduct a thoughtful review of any nominee’s record. We will oppose a nominee if necessary, but we hope that President Bush will follow the example of then-President Reagan who nominated Justice O’Connor in 1981. In so doing, President Reagan selected a consensus candidate who was ultimately confirmed 99-0 by the Senate. We call on the President and Senators to work cooperatively throughout this process and to ensure the appointment of a Supreme Court justice of the highest caliber.

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis.



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