Friday, July 01, 2005

O'Connor Retires; Review of Her Religion Clause Opinions

[UPDATED AND CORRECTED] Today the United States Supreme Court announced that Justice Sandra Day O'Connor is retiring, effective upon the nomination and confirmation of her successor. In her formal letter of retirement sent to the President, she said: "It has been a great privilege, indeed, to have served as a member of the Court for 24 Terms. I will leave it with enormous respect for the integrity of the Court and its role under our Constitutional structure." In the Rose Garden this morning, President Bush delivered remarks thanking Justice O'Connor and indicating that he is moving ahead to select a nominee to replace her in time for confirmation hearings and a vote before the Court's next term begins.

I thought it would be useful to review all the opinions that Justice O'Connor has written in First Amendment Free Exercise and Establishment Clause cases. Interestingly, she has only written the majority opinion in two of these cases, and a plurality opinion in a third, over her entire 24 years on the Court. The rest are concurrences or dissents. Here are the cases in which she has written, with links to the opinions:

Van Orden v. Perry (dissenting opinion)
McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky (concurring opinion)
Elk Grove Unif. School Dist. v. Newdow (concurring opinion)
Zelman v. Simmons-Harris (concurring opinion)
Mitchell v. Helms (concurring opinion)
Agostini v. Felton (majority opinion)
Capitol Square Review Bd. v. Pinette (concurring opinion)
Rosenberger v. University of Virginia (concurring opinion)
Bd. of Educ. of Kiryas Joel v. Grumet (concurring opinion)
Zobrest v. Catalina Foothills School Dist. (dissenting opinion)
Westside Community Bd. of Edu. v. Mergens ( plurality opinion)
Employment Division v. Smith (concurring opinion)
Hernandez v. Commissioner (dissenting opinion)
Allegheny County v. Greater Pittsburgh ACLU (concurring opinion)
Lyng v. Northwest Indian Cemetery Protective Assoc. (majority opinion)
Bowen v. Kendrick (concurring opinion)
Corporation of Presiding Bishop v. Amos (concurring opinion)
Witters v. Wash. Dept. of Services for Blind (concurring opinion)
Goldman v. Weinberger (dissenting opinion)
Bowen v. Roy (concur in part & dissent in part)
Wallace v. Jaffree (concurring opinion)
Grand Rapids School Dist. v. Ball (concur in part & dissent in part)
Estate of Thornton v. Calder (concurring opinion)
Aguilar v. Felton (dissenting opinion)
Lynch v. Donnelly (concurring opinion)