I think that the long term impact of Justice O'Connor will not be as much for her being the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court. I feel that this has already been expanded upon quite lengthily. Yet, her real impact as a jurist would be her classification as "the swing vote." Justice O'Connor's lasting impact would be her relentless pursuit of examining each case on its merit and doing her part to create the independent judiciary as one in which politics is not the guiding force, but the law is. Her status as the jurist who could not be easily predicted represents how powerful the Supreme Court is and how it is meant to interpret the law through its own lens and not one of political partisanship. According to law professor Steven Green, who has argued in front of the court a number of times, this becomes Justice O'Connor's distinctive quality:
'She was a moderating voice on the court and was very hesitant to expand the law in either direction.' Green also noted that, unlike some other Court justices, O'Connor '[s]eemed to look at each case with an open mind."
In my mind, this is where Justice O'Connor's legacy resides. This legacy has been recently added to by Chief Justice Roberts, who was the deciding vote in the Court's upholding of the Affordable Health Care Act, echoing O'Connor's idea that the Supreme Court must exist outside of the realm of politics and live for the Constitution of the United States.
O'Conner has written books, which must say what she thinks about the law. She and her brother wrote a book, Lazy B, about growing up on a ranch in Arizona with a lot of hunky cowboys.