O'Connor Retirement Is a Serious Threat to Civil Rights

'Justice O'Connor's retirement is a clarion call to every American that our

rights are in grave danger,' said HRC President Joe Solmonese

Jul 01, 2005, 01:00 ET from Human Rights Campaign

    WASHINGTON, July 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Human Rights Campaign President Joe
 Solmonese released the following statement today in response to the retirement
 of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, a Reagan appointee.
     "Justice Sandra Day O'Connor has a long and distinguished record as a
 consensus builder in a closely divided court. Justice O'Connor's retirement is
 a clarion call to every American that our rights are in grave danger. The loss
 of Justice O'Connor's moderate voice is a serious threat to gay, lesbian,
 bisexual and transgender rights, to women's rights and to protections for
 racial, ethnic and religious minorities. We must all come together to fight
 for a replacement who follows in the Justice's tradition.
     "During her time on the court, Justice O'Connor became increasingly
 supportive of equal rights for all Americans. Her concurring opinion in
 Lawrence v. Texas recognized the basic equality of gay, lesbian, bisexual and
 transgender people under law. In opinions in First Amendment cases she
 protected the constitutional wall between church and state. Justice O'Connor
 also voted to uphold the right to choose and to preserve universities' right
 to promote diversity.
     "The retirement of this mainstream and fair-minded Justice leaves a void
 on a court that is so closely divided. We need a nominee that all Americans
 can rally behind.  As President Bush and the U.S. Senate consider a
 replacement on the bench, they should abandon partisanship and seek consensus
 on a nominee who will protect every American fairly.
     "America deserves a fair-minded justice who will recognize every
 American's right to equality. As Justice O'Connor retires, there is an
 opportunity to select another Justice who recognizes the fundamental
 importance of equality under the law and whose decisions will be guided by it.
 Given the crucial role played by the Supreme Court in the protection of civil
 rights and civil liberties, the stakes for the country could not be higher.
     "President Bush should look to consult with the Senate on a Justice who
 walks in Justice O'Connor's footsteps of fairness. Her moderate, thoughtful
 voice on the bench was a positive influence on the Court and we hope that her
 replacement mirrors those qualities."
     The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual
 and transgender political organization with members throughout the country. It
 effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the
 public to ensure that LGBT Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at
 work and in the community.

SOURCE Human Rights Campaign