Friday, July 01, 2005

Sandra Day O'Connor Retires; What's Next for Women's Rights and the Supreme Court

Friday, July 1, 2005
Bush gets first chance for Court nominee

President Bush arrives to make a statement about the retirement of Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O'Connor in the Rose Garden of the White House Friday, July 1, 2005 in Washington. O'Connor, the first woman on the Supreme Court and a swing vote on abortion as well as other contentious issues, announced her retirement Friday. A bruising Senate confirmation struggle loomed as President Bush selects a successor.

WASHINGTON -- President Bush said Friday he will pick a successor to Justice Sandra Day O'Connor in a timely manner so her vacancy can be filled by the time the Supreme Court resumes work in the fall.

The White House said he would not decide before returning from Europe July 8.
Bush will consult with Republican and Democratic senators about his selection, and will talk with them on the flight to Denmark next Tuesday and during his stay Wednesday through Friday at the summit of leading industrialized nations, in Gleneagles, Scotland, said presidential spokesman Scott McClellan.

The White House got the first indication of the retirement on Thursday when the Supreme Court's head marshal, Pamela Talkin, called White House counsel Harriet Miers to make arrangements to deliver a sealed envelope the next morning. Miers informed Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, who were having lunch together, that a letter was coming. Talkin informed the White House around 9 a.m. Friday that the letter was from O'Conner , and Miers alerted Bush .

The president spoke with O'Connor before he appeared in the Rose Garden to express appreciation for her 24 years of service.

"For an old ranching girl, you turned out pretty good," he told O'Connor, who grew up on an Arizona ranch. But it was an emotional call, McClellan said. He quoted Bush as telling her, "You're one of the great Americans" and "I wish I were there to hug you."