Yesterday Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor presented a lecture on “Ethics, Civility, and Public Service” as part of the Paul H. Douglas Education Lecture series. The lecture was hosted by the Union League Club of Chicago and the University of Illinois. Chicago personal injury attorney Robert Kreisman was in attendance.
Justice O’Connor received the Paul H. Douglas Award for Ethics in Government in 2008. The Douglas Award was established by the University of Illinois in 1992 in honor of Paul H. Douglas, an Illinois lawmaker often called the “conscience of the Senate”. The annually presented award is given to a public servant who exemplifies ethical behavior in government.
At the end of Justice O’Connor’s lecture she took questions and comments from the audience. One attendee asked her opinion regarding Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagen, who is a non-judge. Justice O’Connor responded that the Supreme Court requires diversity of background and that she therefore welcomes a jurist to the Supreme Court who has no prior experience sitting as a judge.
Justice O’Connor’s judicial career began with her election to the Maricopa County Superior Court in 1975, where she served until being appointed to the Arizona Court of Appeals in 1979. In 1981 Justice O’Connor became the first female nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court when she was appointed by President Reagan in 1981 as a replacement for retiring Justice Potter Stewart.
Justice O’Connor served on the Supreme Court until 2006. During her time on the Supreme Court bench she cast the deciding vote on several decisions, including one upholding the constitutionality of the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Law, which regulated “soft-money” contributions. This decision holds particular significance for Illinois lawmakers who are attempting to reform Illinois campaign financing.
Since her retirement from the Supreme Court, Justice O’Connor has lectured on how to sustain a judicial system that is free of political pressure. In addition she has been a strong advocate for the selection of judges based on the merit system as a method to keep politics out of the judicial system.
Chicago’s Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois personal injury lawsuits for over 30 years, serving those areas in and around Cook County, including Evanston, Naperville, Blue Island, and Wheeling.
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