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

O'CONNOR: If all your colleagues think the court should go, then you're probably going to go. If the court, if the members of the court as a group sort of decided we really think we might as well not go, then I think most would void it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: It's kind of --

O'CONNOR: Because it's not pleasant --

STEPHANOPOULOS: It's kind of a consensus decision?

O'CONNOR: -- situation to sit that way.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Is there ... I can understand both sides of the argument. I can understand feeling like a prop.

O'CONNOR: Uh-huh (affirmation).

STEPHANOPOULOS: I could also ... think that there's something important about having every branch of government represented.

O'CONNOR: The symbolism of having all three branches there is significant, and that's probably why for so many years they've gone.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You served in all three branches of government, as you said.

O'CONNOR: At the state level.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Two questions: Which one is the most enjoyable. Which is the most consequential?

O'CONNOR: Well, let's talk about enjoyable. I really enjoyed being a judge. Maybe that's because I have gone to law school, that was my training, it was something that I had planned to stay in the legal profession and to do. And within the legal profession, being a judge is considered an honor.

And I do think that it's one of the greatest honors one can have, to be chosen by your fellow countrymen and women to be a judge, and to make critical decisions. I mean, that's an incredible privilege to do. And it's equally a huge responsibility. But that's all right, I thought that was great.

Being a legislator was good in one way, because you can choose to work on whatever problem … whatever problem you see out there that you think needs legislative change. You can say, "I'm gonna work on that." You can assemble, research and re --

STEPHANOPOULOS: You don't have to wait for it to come to you.

O'CONNOR: -- support. You don't have to wait for it to come. As a judge, you can't pick the issues, you decide what comes to you, in whatever form. You have no choice. As a legislator, you have total choice. And in the executive branch, I was only ... in the attorney general's office. And again, we took the problems that came in whatever form. We didn't go pick them.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I'm going to put you, have you put your state legislator hat back on. You state is in the middle of a lot of controversy over immigration. Had ... you been in the state legislature, [would] you have voted for that law?

O'CONNOR: I'm not going to answer that. I don't want to aggravate the debate in my state over that. It's been enacted, and I think what we have to look at now is, what does Arizona do now? How do we put a good step forward to show that Arizona is not as a whole, a biased state. And that we appreciate and respect the Hispanic population in our state very much.

They've been part of us since long before we became a state. [Francisco Vasquez de] Coronado marched through parts of Arizona, you know, when he first came from Spain and wanted to find the seven cities of gold. So we've ... been in contact for a long time in our state. And I think as a state, we respect and admire very much our Hispanic population.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you think the law is constitutional?

O'CONNOR: I'm not going to weigh in on it. I'm sure sections of it will be tested.

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