Sandra Day O'Connor Weighs In on Immigration, the Supreme Court and Civics Ed

O'CONNOR: No, it isn't. It's ... a marvelous place in the sense that it's a place where each member works very hard to do the best they can to answer the issue before them. They read everything they can, they think about it, they study it, they read the precedence, and then they try to engage in a [reasoned] discussion with their colleagues. And it's a great process, it's wonderful. But it's not like the legislative body, where you help me and then I'll help you. It doesn't work that way. Thank goodness.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Never once?

O'CONNOR: No, not once. Not once.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You also said when you were talking to the kids that you've never looked back.

O'CONNOR: Right.

STEPHANOPOULOS: No case, no vote that you would ... make differently today?

O'CONNOR: Absolutely not. I don't think you should be a judge if you're going to constantly look back and say, "Oh my Lord, did I do the right thing?" You ... can't be a contented person if you do that. Put the energy in at the front end, do everything you can to find out all you can ... make the best job of deciding. Make the decision, and don't look back.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Does it matter if someone hasn't been a judge before they go to the Supreme Court?

O'CONNOR: I don't think it does. We've had at least a third of the justices over time were never a judge. I think it's fine, just fine. If you ... are a scholarly in nature, if you are willing to do all the reading (LAUGH) and the homework, you'll be fine. If you can write well, think well, you'll be fine.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And from what you've seen of Elena Kagan, I know you know her a little bit, do you think she'll be confirmed?

O'CONNOR: I would think so. She seems to be very well qualified academically.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What do you miss about the court?

O'CONNOR: Well, just being involved in the process of deciding some very interesting issues. Because ... some of them, you don't care.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Dry?

O'CONNOR: Yeah. But some of them are fascinating issues. And it's very interesting to be involved in trying to resolve those and to try to make a [reasoned] contribution to that. That's fine.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Any one issue you want to be in there dealing with, wrestling with right now?

O'CONNOR: No.

STEPHANOPOULOS: No single one?

O'CONNOR: No, no. I wouldn't tell you if there were.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I didn't think so --

O'CONNOR: No.

STEPHANOPOULOS: --but I had to ask. (LAUGHTER) Let me ask you another question. You may not answer it, but I ... think it's an important one. You saw this controversy when the president gave his State of the Union address this year. And clearly, Chief Justice Roberts is ... upset about it. And seems inclined not to go back.

O'CONNOR: I don't know if that's the case or not.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Would you go ... in this environment?

O'CONNOR: We, under the former environment, I found it a very, a not enjoyable occasion to go to State of the Union, because the justices are seated up on a front row in their robes. You have to sit there, you can clap when the president enters. You can clap when the president leaves, and in between, with comments, when everybody else is clapping, you keep your hands in your lap and keep your face composed. And so it's a strange situation. And given an option, I'd prefer not to be there, myself --

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, you had an option don't you?

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