07/01/2005 01:28 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Aurora is Rising Behind Us

Sandy, the fireworks are hailing over Little Eden tonight, forcing a light into all those stony faces - left stranded on this warm July.

Those stony faces belong to moderates, practical liberals, and pretty much those Americans who do most of the living and breathing and working and dying in this country. The glue of moderation on the Supreme Court is retiring at 75, and the United States will be a poorer place, and quite possibly less of a nation of laws, without Sandra Day O'Connor on the bench.

Look, I'm a liberal Democrat but Sandy - as I like to call her - is a conservative Republican who gets in my wheelhouse and sticks. Her decisions (not always the right ones, to me) were always born of experience; Sandy O'Connor was a local politician. She made deals. She worked on the ground in retail politics, where ideology ain't worth spit. As Jason Chervokas points out, Justice O'Connor's decisions on the big cases were her "greatest moments not because they were liberal moments but because they were moments when she stood up, forthrightly, for individual liberty in the face of ideological, intrusive government power even though that power was being wielded by members of the party to which she had devoted her early career. In many ways these majority decisions that she wrote were her most conservative moments."

Exactly. Conservatives think certain liberals loved Sandy because she helped us win certain cases. Possibly. But some of us loved the common sense more. Adds Jason:

O'Connor wasn't given to flights of rhetorical fancy in her writing. But she was capable of a plainspoken, hardscrabble eloquence that rang with common sense, a style perhaps unsurprising considering her childhood growing up in the 1930s on an Arizona ranch without electricity or running water.

Now, of course, comes the battle. Who says summer is slow and boring and predictable in Washington, DC?