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Roadblock Too Far? Justice O'Connor's Left Turn on the Fourth

NCJ Number
Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice Volume: 19 Issue: 2 Dated: May 2003 Pages: 182-204
Marvin Zalman; Elsa Shartsis
Chris Eskridge
Date Published
May 2003
23 pages
This article explores Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s jurisprudence and decisionmaking style with a shift from a conservative position to a moderate position and analyzes her recent Fourth Amendment opinions.
Recognized as the most influential justice on the Supreme Court, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s position on the Supreme Court is one of a “pragmatic conservative” providing one of the swing votes that decide cases. This article presents a brief overview of Justice O’Connor’s jurisprudence, examining her judicial philosophy, style of judging, and policy preferences. Justice O’Connor’s opinions in five recent cases are reviewed and include: City of Indianapolis versus Edmond (2000), Ferguson versus City of Charleston (2001), Atwater versus City of Lago Vista (2001), Illinois versus McArthur (2001), and Kyllo versus United States (2001). Justice O’Conner’s Fourth Amendment jurisprudence notes the shift in her decisionmaking pattern over the years from a very conservative position to a more moderate position. This article examines whether her recent Fourth Amendment decisions and opinions fit her established jurisprudential style and the degree to which her decisionmaking can be said to be political. With all that is known of Justice O’Connor’s jurisprudence, it leads many to conclude that she would vote to uphold the Government in cases arising under the Patriot Act (2001) unless the Government’s action were so egregious as to offend the entire Court. References


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