BREAKING NEWS ~ O’Connor retiring from US Supreme Court

BREAKING NEWS ~ O’Connor retiring from US Supreme Court

[JURIST] AP is reporting that Sandra Day O'Connor [Wikipedia profile], first woman justice on the US Supreme Court, has announced her plans to retire [SCOTUSblog post]. Read the text of Justice O'Connor's letter of resignation [via SCOTUSblog] addressed to President Bush. The Washington Post has more.

Read this retrospective [Findlaw column] from 2001 on Justice O'Connor's Supreme Court career on the occasion of her 20th year of service.

10:58 AM ET – President Bush is expected to speak on the retirement of Justice O'Connor at 11:15 AM ET. Watch his remarks live [via AP].

11:17 AM ET – President Bush has called for a "dignified" confirmation process for O'Connor's successor, and says that he expects the nomination and confirmation of that successor to be completed before the beginning of the new Supreme Court term in October.

11:25 AM ET – Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has issued a press release on O'Connor's retirement, saying:

America needs judges who are fair, independent, unbiased and committed to equal justice under the law. I’m confident that the president will select a qualified replacement justice who embodies these qualities. I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure a fair confirmation process in the Senate that will ensure the Supreme Court is at full strength to start its next term in October.

Ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee Patrick Leahy has also issued a statement, offering these comments on the nomination ahead:

The stakes are high for all Americans. Consideration of Supreme Court nominations is one of the most important responsibilities of the Senate. I renew my call to the President to consult with Members of the Senate from both sides of the aisle as he makes his decision about a nominee. There is a rich history and tradition of consultation between the President and the Senate on Supreme Court nominees. I hope that the President will honor not only Justice O’Connor’s record of service, but also her judicial independence, by respecting that tradition of meaningful consultation and in finding a nominee who will unite and not further divide the Nation.

Read a brief perspective on the history of US Supreme Court nominations by Professor Robert S. Barker of Duquesne University School of Law in Pittsburgh.

11:37 AM ET – JURIST has posted a photocopy of O'Connor's signed letter of resignation [PDF]. US Newswire is tracking additional press releases on O'Connor's retirement as they come out.

11:43 AM ET – The White House has posted the full text of the President's remarks on Justice O'Connor and the forthcoming nomination of her successor. Recorded video is also available.

12:48 PM ET – AP offers a look back at other Supreme Court retirements, and a look forward to possible high court candidates. SCOTUSblog offers continuous commentary on the various possibiliies and pitfalls of the nominations process on its Supreme Court Nominations Blog.