O’Connor Advisory Committee

When Justice Sandra Day O’Connor retired from the U.S. Supreme Court in 2006, she committed herself to two things she cares passionately about: judicial independence and civics education. She began working on judicial independence at Georgetown Law School through the “Sandra Day O’Connor Project on the State of the Judiciary,” a series of conferences co-sponsored by the Aspen Institute in 2006 through 2009.

Through these conferences, various themes and conclusions emerged. With respect to independence of the judiciary, the conference proceedings reflected that fairness and impartiality may be at risk in state court systems, particularly with reference to the selection methods for those state court judges. A commission-based appointment and retention election system is far preferable to contested elections, because it protects fair and impartial courts, keeps politics out of the process, and lets voters hold judges accountable for their performance on the bench.

As her project at Georgetown Law School neared conclusion in 2010, Justice O’Connor wanted to take the next step and begin fostering change directly at the state level. On December 8, 2009, she launched the Quality Judges Initiative at IAALS. We are honored that Justice O’Connor chose to partner with us to continue her work on judicial selection through IAALS.

Justice (Ret.), United States Supreme Court
Executive Director, Justice and Society Program, The Aspen Institute
United States Senate, 1987–2005
Partner, Alexander Dubose Jefferson & Townsend LLP
Immediate Past President, League of Women Voters of the United States
Chief Justice (Ret.), Arizona Supreme Court
Professor of Legal Ethics, University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law
Of Counsel, Finch McCranie, LLP
Partner and Founding Member, Maynard, Cooper & Gale, PC
Governor of New Jersey, 1994–2001