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Sandra Day O'Connor: Active in Retirement
Excerpts from article By Claudia Parsons Thursday, June 5, 2008(Reuters)

"America's first female Supreme Court justice unveiled a videogame project on Wednesday to teach children how courts work, saying she wanted to counter partisan criticism that judges are "godless" activists.

"Sandra Day O'Connor, 78, who served as U.S. Supreme Court justice from 1981 until her retirement in 2006... got involved with developing the project called 'Our Courts' out of concern over public ignorance about the judiciary and partisan attacks on what should be an independent institution."

We could not agree more. Ignorance is humanity's greatest danger as the many ills outlined on this site arise not only from individual ignorance but ignorance on the societal level where the stakes are so much higher. Education is the most obvious and most immediate and universal solution.

"In recent years I've become increasingly concerned about vitriolic attacks by some members of Congress, some members of state legislatures and various private interest groups ... on judges," O'Connor told the Games For Change conference on using gaming technology for social improvement and education.

"We hear a great deal about judges who are activists -- godless, secular, humanists trying to impose their will on the rest of us," she said. "Now I always thought an activist judge was one who got up in the morning and went to work."

O' Conner has her feet on the ground--firmly. This situation was not always so. Some judges in fact have become activists--whether or not they were appointed as a result of a litmus test. The process began early in the 20th Century and and has now grown to be standard practice.

"She said it was worrying to see members of the Senate requiring nominees to the Supreme Court to state how they would rule on certain cases during the confirmation process, and to see special interests trying to influence the election of state judges in states where such elections are still held.

"With partisan attacks and political pressure mounting, it's much more difficult to achieve fair and impartial judgments from the judges who are serving," O'Connor said.


"She said the only way to preserve an independent judiciary was through public education, which she said was failing to produce citizens with enough knowledge about the three branches of U.S. government -- legislative, executive and judicial.

"The 'Our Courts' project... will allow students to engage in real legal issues," she said. Asked to give an example, she said one element would focus on a scenario of a school attempting to stop students wearing a T-shirt with a controversial slogan -- a free speech issue designed to elicit argument about the 1st Amendment.

"She said the web site at should have some initial material by this September and be fully operational with interactive elements a year later.

[O'Connor noted that studies showed children...] "spend around 40 hours a week using media, including computers, television, videogames or music. "If we can capture just a little bit of that time to get them thinking about government and civic engagement rather than playing shoot-'em-up video games, that's a huge step in the right direction."

Ignorance and naivete make us prey to the Sociopaths and Psychopaths among us who care only for themselves. It is they who use violence to further their own ends. Violence they exercise can be physical harm, theft of resources, or psychological. They permeate all societies. If we can find ways to effectively control them, we can move toward a more peaceful existence. Some nations do much better jobs than others on this score.

We heartily endorse this effort by a modern pioneer woman who sees life as it actually is.


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