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Retired Justice O'Connor Testifies on Civics Education

Washington, DC
Wednesday, July 25, 2012

After retiring from the Supreme Court, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor has advocated for more civics education, and argues that it will protect an independent judiciary.

Justice O'Connor highlighted the difference between judges who are appointed and elected, saying that any judge who must run for re-election will need to fundraise for that campaign, and that she believes that fundraising can have a corrupting effect on the judiciary. Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) noted that in Vermont, as in the federal judiciary, judges are appointed by elected officials, which he believes is the best system.

The retired justice highlighted the system in her home state, Arizona, which allows elected officials to appoint judges, and then after a number of years, voters can decide whether to retain the judges. Justice O'Connor said that this allowed voters to assess judges on the basis of their judicial record rather than their previous jobs as lawyers or politicians.

Through her organization, iCivics, she has sought to stimulate student interest in civics. The iCivics program is available to teachers free of charge and focuses on analytical problem solving.

The Senate Judiciary Committee hears testimony from the retired justice on this program, and how it relates to creating and maintaining an independent judiciary.

Updated: Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 7:43am (ET)

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