Judging Judge O'Connor

Nothing in Judge Sandra O'Connor's confirmation hearings gave reason to deny President Reagan his choice for the Supreme Court. She indicated that she was not without controversial personal views: favoring capital punishment, allowing women in some combat roles, opposing abortion and mandatory school busing. But she got to the heart of the matter -- and offered herself a challenge on the higher bench -- when she declared to a persistent questioner that "my personal views and beliefs have no place in the resolution of any issue."

The point was particularly raised on the issue that has aroused the most opposition, legalized abortion, for which Judge O'Connor once cast a committee vote as an Arizona legislator.

One of her critics pertinently noted that hardly anyone claims a personal view favoring abortion, not even those who uphold the Supreme Court decision backing women's right to abortions. Thus public figures have to be judged on their votes or other actions actually affecting abortion.

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Mrs. O'Connor said she now considered her bygone vote a mistake. But she wisely refused to make any commitments on how she would rule in the future. She knows that anyone's record on the high court is not based on either promises or personal views but on judging the merits of each case with conscience and competence.

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