Sandra Day O'Connor Confirmed as First Woman Supreme Court Justice
Ukiah, Mendocino County, California 1 Section O'Connor heads for confirmation By ED ROGERS WASHINGTON (UPI) - Sandra Day O'Connor appeared headed toward unanimous Senate confirmation today as the nation's first woman Supreme Court justice. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Strom Thurmond, RS.C, told reporters that an early challenger of the nomination, conservative Jeremiah Denton, R-Ala., had pledged an "aye" vote on confirmation. Denton voted "present" when Thurmond's committee recommended her confirmation. Thurmond mentioned other New Right abortion foes who had come around to supporting President Reagan's nominee and added: "I'm hoping to get a unanimous vote. I think that will be the case." The evaporation of conservative opposition was cheered by Democratic orators, who matched Republicans in calling for a unanimous vote — while denouncing the "single issue" (abortion) politics that had troubled some Republicans. Sen. Howard Metzenbaum, ROhio, said he differs with Mrs. O'Connor on many issues but thinks she is qualified and should not be defeated over a single issue. "I hope that today there won't be a single vote cast against her confirmation," Metzenbaum said. "It will indicate the Senate did not yield to pressures of the New Right.'' Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C, after describing his discomfort with Mrs. O'Connor's past stands on abortion, announced that he, too, would vote to confirm her later today. Describing her record as an Arizona state legislative as the "opposite" of her testimony that she finds abortion abhorrant, Helms said he nevertheless would accept Ronald Reagan's characterization that Mrs. O'Connor's views on the volatile issue are the same as the president's. Thurmond said the committee gave her "a highly favorable recommendation" and concluded she is "extraordinarily qualified." He said he had found her "honest, uncorruptible, fair" and "a person of compassion ... compassion for the individual but also compassion for society." He said she had showed "great intellectual honesty" and "personal warmth ... a friendly and open character." Sen. Barry M. Goldwater, RAriz., who represents Mrs. O'Connor's state, alluded to one of the few issues on which, there had been any controversy by saying that Mrs. O'Connor "finds abortion personally abhorrent." The confirmation vote was expected in early evening, and if all goes as expected the 199-year-old high court will have its first woman justice. Plans already were being made to have her sworn in Friday. Mrs. O'Connor is 51 years old, an Arizona appeals court judge, a former Arizona state legislator, a longtime Republican, the mother of three grown children and the wife of a Phoenix lawyer. In Senate Judiciary Committee hearings earlier this month, she emerged as an intelligent, hardworking jurist with conservative views and enough gumption to refuse to be pinned down on the emotional issue of abortion. Last week, the 18-member panel approved Mrs. O'Connor for confirmation on a vote of 17-0. Sen. Jeremiah Denton, RAla., voted "present." Denton, a leading abortion foe, was disturbed by Mrs. O'Connor's refusal to state her judicial position on abortion, which she said she opposes personally. He sent Reagan a note asking for more information to help him decide how to vote on the Senate floor. In response, Denton got a call from Reagan on Thursday. The senator would not disclose what Reagan said, and an aide declined to say how Denton would vote. During the weekend, Denton said he also received a letter from Mrs. O'Connor that provided "a little more food for thought" on her nomination.