As some of you may have heard by now, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has announced her retirement from the U.S. Supreme Court, effective upon the confirmation of her replacement, and boy do we all have a fun few months coming up while that battle is being fought. Personally, I expect Bush will probably nominate Noam Chomsky or maybe Michael Moore, but these are not the odds-on favorites.
Few expected O’Connor to be the one to go. According to the New York Times, allies of the White House were taken off guard. C. Boyden Gray, former White House counsel and now head of a "key advocacy group set to back whoever the president nominates," learned of the resignation this morning by text message. "It makes me nervous," he said.
While O’Connor will be remembered for being the first female justice, for having great influence on Court decisions by frequently providing a swing vote, and for writing a lot of probably notable opinions that I could go find the names of right now if I had more time, this is not the place for any of that. No, this is the place to recall the White House dinner in 1985 at which a drunken John Riggins, then a running back for the Washington Redskins, told Justice O’Connor to "loosen up, Sandy baby." Here’s Riggins’ version of the story, as told to New York Sports Express:
NYSX: At a White House Dinner in 1985 you gave my all-time favorite quote, admonishing Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor: "Loosen Up Sandy baby. You’re too tight." What made you say that to her?
JR: You have to remember, as they say, I was feeling no pain. The person who really ended up getting the full brunt of me that evening was Chuck Robb who was the governor of Virginia at that time. . . . And then it was announced that Justice O’Connor and her husband John had to leave the banquet early. So that’s when I made my comment. You know, like you would to a friend — "C’mon where you going, stick around, loosen up, have some fun here." That’s the vein it was meant in. I was just having fun.
She understood that. I saw her this January. We came face to face and the first thing she said was "You know, you’re going to be on my tombstone." And I said "You know what Justice O’Connor? That’s the same thing I tell people. You’re going to be on my tombstone." So we’re kinda joined at the hip for eternity I think. Which I have to say if you’re gonna be joined at the hip to somebody, Sandra Day O’Connor ain’t a bad one to be joined to in my opinion. . . . I’m sure she doesn’t see it that way, but it’s not bad on my end.
So. There’s her epitaph:
Sandra Day O’Connor
Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court
Joined at the Hip to John Riggins
Running Back of the Washington Redskins
She Was Not a Bad One With Whom to Be Joined
at the Hip for Eternity
If Joined With Someone In That Fashion You Must Be