For this year's Ninth Annual Lecture, the Academy is honoured to have Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman to be appointed to the United States Supreme Court Bench, as the guest speaker. Justice O'Connor will be sharing with the audience her wealth of experience and knowledge in her lecture entitled 'Life and the Law: A Personal Journey'.
Justice O'Connor's rise to the pinnacle of the judicial ranks in the United States is underscored by her trademark intellect, strength in character and hard-edged common sense. In her stellar career, Justice O'Connor has worked in all three branches of government and is the only sitting Justice in the Supreme Court who has served in elected office.
Justice O'Connor graduated magna cum laude in economics from Stanford University in 1950. Despite ranking third in her class at Stanford Law School and completing law school in two years in 1952, instead of the customary three, she encountered difficulty obtaining employment in private legal practice. She turned instead, to public service, accepting a job as the deputy country attorney for San Mateo, California.
In 1963, she was appointed state Senatr in Arizona and won re-election to the state Senate in two successive terms. She was elected the majority leader in 1972, the first woman to hold such office anywhere in the United States. In 1974, Justice O'Connor won the election to a state judgeship on the Maricopa Country Superior Court, on which she served from 1979 to 1981.
The United States Senate, by a unanimous vote, confirmed President Reagan's nomination of Sandra Day O'Connor as a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States in September 1981.
Justice O'Connor's jurisprudential approach is marked with pragmatism, principled moderation and centralism. She is described as a justice "who looks to resolve each case and no more, one with no overarching philosophy that might preordain a result". She is also a strong believer in federalism, and is considered by many to be an important contributor in decentralising congressional power, while reviving the constitutionally-mandated role of the states in the constitutional framework. This is evident in the landmark decision in New York v United States (1992), which held that the federal government exceeded its powers in attempting to compel states to take title to radioactive waste if they had not disposed of it in a stipulated period of time.
Many of the opinions which Justice O'Connor has rendered have brought out her signature style, in approaching the issues before her with an eye towards a commonsensical and practical resolution and which is firmly focused on the facts of the case. These are seen in her opinions on the issues of affirmative action, the death penalty, abortion and freedom of religion. Justice O'Connor has, in her 21 years on the Supreme Court Bench, written many noted opinions, including Lynch v Donelly (1984) on religious freedom and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v Casey (1992) on the right to abortion.
The Ninth Annual Lecture will be held on Monday, 16 September 2002 at 8:00 pm at The Ballroom, Marina Mandarin Singapore. The lecture is open to both members of the legal profession and to the public, by invitation only. For details on invitation, please call 6332 4149 or email [email protected]
The Singapore Academy of Law is a body created by the Singapore Academy of Law Act (Cap. 294A). The Academy aims to bring together all sections of the legal fraternity in learning and interaction and also to promote the public's awareness of laws, legal systems and legal issues. The President of the Academy is the Honourable the Chief Justice of Singapore.
Issued by the Singapore Academy of Law on 27 August 2002. Should representatives from the media require further information, please contact Sherina Chan at Tel: 6332 0078 or email [email protected]