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Supreme Court Justices Reflect on Judicial Independence

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor discuss judicial independence, the subject of a two-day conference this week at Georgetown University Law School.

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  • GWEN IFILL:

    Justices Breyer and O'Connor, thank you so much for joining us.

    Justice O'Connor, you've written a great deal about the independence of the federal judiciary and your concerns it is not as independent as it could be. It seems that the courts have become targets from the left and the right. Why do you think that is?

  • SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR, Former Supreme Court Justice:

    In my lifetime, I have not seen so much criticism of judges, and it comes about both at the federal level and at the state level. It's all over the United States. I'm not sure why it's so intense right now.

    It's focused on a number of decisions that some find troubling, and it has gelled into a kind of general accusation about "activist judges" who legislate from the bench, and there are many efforts being made at the state and federal levels to try to control that.