Ms O'Connor, nominated by Ronald Reagan as the first woman supreme court justice, declared: "We must be ever-vigilant against those who would strong-arm the judiciary."
She pointed to autocracies in the developing world and former Communist countries as lessons on where interference with the judiciary might lead. "It takes a lot of degeneration before a country falls into dictatorship, but we should avoid these ends by avoiding these beginnings."
Such threats, Ms O'Connor said, "pose a direct threat to our constitutional freedom", and she told the lawyers in her audience: "I want you to tune your ears to these attacks ... You have an obligation to speak up.
"Statutes and constitutions do not protect judicial independence - people do," the retired supreme court justice said.
In her speech, Ms O'Connor said that if the courts did not occasionally make politicians mad they would not be doing their jobs, and their effectiveness "is premised on the notion that we won't be subject to retaliation for our judicial acts".
O'Connor was appointed by Reagan and was considered one of the most moderate judges that could swing a vote in either direction. She was also the first female Supreme Court justice and a personal hero of mine. She stated what E and I have said since Scooter and his minions were allowed to take over this country in 2000.
We have to take this country back, folks. We're moving in a direction that I know none of us want to go.
Edited 3/31/06 to remove all George Clooney content posted at the Huffington Post as the material was found to be written by Huffington rather than Clooney.