O'Connor urges judges to emulate Harlan's 'legacyof respect'


Princeton NJ -- Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, right, made her first visit to the University on Nov. 17 to deliver the inaugural John Marshall Harlan '20 Lecture in Constitutional Adjudication, honoring the most recent Princetonian to serve on the high court.

  Sandra Day O'Connor at a reception

Sandra Day O'Connor at a reception in the Frist Campus Center

Before her address, she attended a reception in the Frist Campus Center where students, including, from left, juniors Chris Frankel and Arjyo Chakravarti, had a chance to meet her.

In her address in Richardson Auditorium, O'Connor said that Harlan, one of the most influential Supreme Court justices of the 20th century, left an indelible "legacy of respect" that should be emulated by all judges as they grapple with the legal challenges facing the country. Appointed by President Eisenhower in 1955, Harlan served until his death in 1971.

O'Connor praised Harlan for his passionate yet pragmatic efforts to clarify the judiciary's role in upholding the Constitution. Harlan's career was marked by his adherence to legal precedents and traditions and his fierce protection of Americans' individual liberties and states' rights, she said.

"This nation's judges face the daunting challenge of setting aside their personal predilections and attacking the complicated and often very controversial cases before them with integrity and with fidelity to the core principles expounded in our Constitution," O'Connor said. "At the end of the day, the best that can be done by those presented with this work is to follow Justice Harlan's example of respect for the values that undergird that great document."

Christopher Eisgruber, director of Princeton's Program in Law and Public Affairs, organized the lecture, which is intended to become an annual event, to exemplify the University's connection to the law. Princeton has produced eight Supreme Court justices.


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