Facts about Sandra O'Connor
Sandra Day O’Connor Biography
Sandra Day O’Connor was the first woman ever to sit on the United States Supreme Court.
Born Sandra Day, she earned undergraduate and law (1952) degrees from Stanford University and eventually settled in Arizona. She served the state as an assistant attorney general, state senator, and finally as a superior court judge.
Governor Bruce Babbitt raised her to the Arizona Court of Appeals in 1979, and in 1981 President Ronald Reagan nominated her for the U.S. Supreme Court. She was confirmed by the Senate 99-0 and sworn in on September 25, 1981, becoming the first female justice in the court’s history.
Over time, Sandra Day O’Connor earned a reputation on the bench as a moderate conservative and a key figure in court decisions related to the issue of abortion.
However, she did join her conservative colleagues in a critical 5-4 vote in Bush v. Gore, which forced a resolution to the 2000 elections in favor of Republican candidate George W. Bush.
On July 1, 2005 she announced her retirement, saying that she wanted to care for her husband, who was suffering from dementia. She was succeeded the next year by Justice Samuel Alito. On October 23, 2018, O’Connor announced that she herself was suffering from early-stage dementia and would withdraw from public life.
She married John J. O’Connor III on December 20, 1952 in El Paso, Texas. They had met when both were students at Stanford University. They had three children: Scott (born 1957), Jay (b. 1960), and Brian (b. 1962). John O’Connor developed Alzheimer’s Disease late in life, was placed in a nursing home in 2007, and died in 2009… On July 19, 2005, President George W. Bush nominated John G. Roberts, Jr. to replace O’Connor on the court, but before Roberts could be confirmed, Chief Justice William Rehnquist died; Roberts was nominated to the post of Chief Justice and President Bush nominated his confidante Harriet Miers to replace O’Connor. After resistance from the Senate, Miers withdrew her name and Judge Samuel Alito was then nominated and confirmed… Sandra Day O’Connor replaced Justice Potter Stewart, who retired on July 3, 1981 after 23 years on the court.. Other Ronald Reagan appointees to the Supreme Court included Antonin Scalia (1986) and Anthony Kennedy (1988)… The Supreme Court’s second female justice, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, was appointed by Bill Clinton and took the oath of office on August 10, 1993.