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Justice O'Conner and the Equal Protection Clause: A Feminine Voice?

NCJ Number
Judicature Volume: 78 Issue: 5 Dated: (March-April 1995) Pages: 232-235
J M Aliotta
Date Published
4 pages
This study attempts to determine if Justice Sandra Day O'Conner, the first female U.S. Supreme Court Justice, exhibits a unique voting pattern in equal protection cases, consistent with a feminine type of jurisprudence.
The analysis presented here focuses on 40 equal protection cases decided between 1981 and 1985 by the Supreme Court. Of the 356 judicial votes, 52.5 percent were cast in favor of equal protection, while 47.5 percent were cast against. With a combination of four fact variables -- race, legitimacy, fundamental rights, and the presence of the Federal Government as the defendant -- and Justice O'Conner classified 67.42 percent of the votes correctly, an improvement of 15 percent over the number that could be classified by chance alone. Justice O'Conner was more likely to vote against claims for equal protection. However, none of the interaction variables were significant. The analysis, though not definitive, indicates that Justice O'Conner has a unique perspective that is not directly related to particular case characteristics. 31 notes


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