U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor will speak at the law school commencement May 25 in the Smith Center. O’Connor is the first female justice to sit on the high court.
Law school Dean Michael Young has been in “constant contact” with O’Connor for about a year to speak at the law school sometime during the year, Associate Dean Thomas Morrison said. The school secured O’Connor for commencement around the first of the year.
“The law school is always looking for highly qualified, eminent figures in law (to speak),” Morrison said.
O’Connor has served on the court since 1981, when she was appointed by President Ronald Reagan. Appointed by a Republican president, O’Connor sided with the majority in the 2000 presidential election to block the hand recount of votes in Florida.
Before 1981, O’Connor served on the Arizona Court of Appeals and the Arizona State Senate.
Third year law student De Samuyiwa, ex-president of the Student Bar Association, said the SBA submitted the names of 10 speakers they wanted to see for this year’s commencement.
O’Connor made the list, along with Chief Justice William Rehnquist and former President Bill Clinton.
Samuyiwa said O’Connor is a great choice because so many students wanted to see her and her viewpoint at commencement.
“As far as her opinions go she generally goes in the center, between the Rehnquists and the (Anthony) Kennedys,” he said.
An undergraduate commencement speaker is set to be announced in early May, but University officials declined to comment on specific speakers under consideration.