Yesterday I was fortunate enough to attend a speech by former United States Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. At one point many called her the most powerful person in America - as the pivotal "swing" vote in many Supreme Court cases, she often determined the outcome of very critical cases.
As a former Arizona legislator and court of appeals judge, she was a vigorous protector of federalism (a concept all but forgotten today). Since retiring she has become an outspoken advocate of civics education. Many of her writings reflect the same concerns I have about our ability to survive as a free people when we are forgetting the basics of our Constitution.
Yesterday, she discussed the vital importance of judicial independence. In particular, she advocated for insulating courts from the pressure of politics. She argued that there needs to be a safe arena in our constitutional system for the rule of law to prevail.
As Alexander Hamilton argued, without judges to ensure adherence to the Constitution, it would "amount to nothing." We need to heed O'Connor's and Alexander's warnings today, or we could very possibly lose our liberties tomorrow.