O'Connor's Imprint Fades

First female Supreme Court justice's legacy uncertain
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 10, 2008 4:15 PM CDT
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, right, looks on as former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 14, 2008, before the Senate on Alzheimer's...   (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
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(Newser) – Even as Sandra Day O’Connor public profile as an advocate for Alzheimer’s disease research grows, the legal imprint of the first woman Supreme Court justice is fading, USA Today reports. Since her departure, the Roberts court has shifted course on abortion and retreated from positions supported by her swing vote on affirmative action and campaign finance.

Analysts question how much of a legacy a swing voter with an incremental, case-by-case approach to the law could have left. Legal scholars point out, however, that the current court lacks O'Connnor's focus on how decisions affect states. "O'Connor's absence turns the state story into background noise," says a law professor. (Read more Sandra Day O'Connor stories.)