Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has been an inspirational figure to all Americans. As the first woman to serve on the United States Supreme Court, she blazed a trail that many will follow. As a Westerner, she brought to the Court a love of the land and an appreciation for individual rights. And as a former state legislator, she had a practical sense of how to balance the will of the majority with the rights of the minority in our society.
Above all, Justice O’Connor has been a voice of reason and moderation on the Court. It is vital that she be replaced by someone like her, someone who embodies the fundamental American values of freedom, equality and fairness.
The decisions handed down by the Supreme Court profoundly affect the daily lives of all Americans. The Court is the final guardian of our constitutional rights and liberties. That is why the process of filling a Supreme Court vacancy is so important.
The Constitution gives the President and the Senate shared responsibility to fill this vacancy, because the President may only act with the “Advice and Consent” of the Senate. At this critical moment, the President must recognize the Senate’s constitutional role. He should give life to the Advice and Consent Clause by engaging in meaningful consultation with Senators of both political parties.
Working with the Senate, the President should identify a highly qualified candidate whose views are within the broad constitutional mainstream and who will make all Americans proud. With this nomination the President should choose to unite the country, not divide it. I look forward to working with the President and my colleagues in the Senate to fill this critical vacancy.