Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor is the first woman ever to serve on the nation’s highest court. Today, Justice O’Connor gives us her views on current issues and helps us understand the importance of the American judicial system.
A good demonstration of the trust that Americans have in the rule of law is their confidence in the U.S. legal system. Every day in America, courts throughout the country render decisions that affect many people. Courts are a central part of the legal system, but they are not the entire system. Millions of Americans depend on legal services to manage their day-to-day affairs without interacting directly with the courts. They, too, rely upon the legal system. Citizens who want to buy a home, start a business or provide security for their children all require the predictable, common norms that the rule of law provides and the U.S. legal system guarantees.
The notion of the rule of law is basically a very good notion. It’s all about how you achieve justice and fairness in the nation’s governmental structure. I’ve been a great proponent of the notion of the rule of law as we’ve gone around the world and as we’ve been able to see new nation states develop elsewhere in the world.
The United States started as a small country. At its founding, America adopted a new form of government that was untested, and a complete change from the accepted practices of government at that time. But the country prospered. It has had its share of challenges and setbacks, but the country’s sense of justice, rooted in the wisdom of a written constitution, have remained unchanged. America owes its development success to its legal and judicial system as much as any other factor.
This podcast is produced by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Information Programs.