Miami University will host not only its first Supreme Court Justice Nov. 14, but also the Supreme Court’s first female associate justice – Sandra Day O’Connor.
O’Connor, who resigned her post on the Supreme Court in July 2005, is currently the sole retired Supreme Court Justice. Alan Oak, assistant dean for external relations for the Richard T. Farmer School of Business, explained that it’s fortunate that Miami students and faculty will have the chance to hear her speak since it is rare to find justices of the Supreme Court who are able to lecture.
“Sitting justices are limited because of the rules of the court, so typically you don’t see justices lecturing,” Oak said. “Since she’s stepped down recently, she has more flexibility to speak.”
O’Connor served on the Supreme Court from 1981 to 2006. Justice Samuel Alito was confirmed to take her seat on the court in January.
“She’s an outstanding jurist, person and role model,” Oak said. “She served with distinction and was well regarded. She looked carefully at issues and made decisions based on what she believed represented the law, and she’s clearly one of the outstanding people of our country.”
The exact topic of the lecture is still to be decided.
“We’re still working with her on what she’ll cover,” Oak said. “We’ve made a few suggestions, but as of now, there’s still no closure on the topics she’ll cover.”
O’Connor is being brought to Miami as part of the Jack R. Anderson Distinguished Lecture Series, intended to expose Miami students and faculty to people who have been world leaders and have made an impact in history.
“We approached O’Connor’s office and based on the strength of previous speakers from the Jack R. Anderson Distinguished Lecture Series, that was an important part of her decision,” Oak said.
O’Connor was often the swing vote on the court, especially in her final years on the bench. She served for 24 years.
“I think it’s going to be really interesting,” said Carrie Zinck, a Miami first-year. “It’s a great opportunity to learn more about such an influential person.”
O’Connor is being hosted by the Jack R. Anderson Distinguished Lecture Series of the Richard T. Farmer School of Business.
Anderson, a 1947 graduate, donated $1 million in 2000 to create this lecture series which has brought very high profile speakers in the past – including former Secretary of State Colin Powell, former New York City Mayor Rudi Giuliani, Queen Noor of Jordan, former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev, and former British Prime Minister John Major.
The lecture will be free and open to the public at 7:30 p.m. Nov.14, in Millett Hall.