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Sandra Day O'Connor, first woman to serve on Supreme Court, dies at 93



Retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman to (*93*) on the Supreme Court and who emerged because the swing vote on among the courtroom’s greatest circumstances, died Friday. She was 93.

O’Connor died in Phoenix of “complications related to advanced dementia, probably Alzheimer’s, and a respiratory illness,” the courtroom introduced in an announcement.

Just over a decade after she retired, O’Connor had introduced in 2018 that she was withdrawing from public life after being recognized with dementia.

Nominated by President Reagan in 1981, O’Connor grew to become the first woman to (*93*) on the nation’s highest bench.

Over her greater than 20 years on the Supreme Court, O’Connor grew to become an impartial voice, at instances siding with the liberal wing and guiding lots of the courtroom’s consequential circumstances.

Originally personally opposed to abortion, O’Connor finally wrote majority opinions upholding the constitutional proper to the process. 

She additionally wrote the courtroom’s landmark resolution upholding affirmative motion in faculty admissions and was a part of the 5-4 majority in Bush v. Gore that enabled George W. Bush to change into president in 2000.

Born in El Paso, Texas, O’Connor was raised in Arizona and served in all three branches of the state’s authorities earlier than coming to Washington.

After graduating from Stanford Law School, the place she met her husband, John, O’Connor tried to achieve employment as a lawyer. But she struggled to get employed due to her gender, saying she known as greater than 40 regulation corporations that publicized they wished to interview Stanford graduates.

“Not one of them would give me an interview,” O’Connor informed NPR in 2013. “I was a woman, and they said, ‘We don’t hire women,’ and that was a shock to me. It was a total shock.”

After being employed as a deputy county lawyer in California — the place O’Connor supplied to work with out pay — she repeatedly broke obstacles within the years following. 

After a stint as an Arizona lawyer common, she joined the state Senate. In 1972, she grew to become the first woman to change into majority chief in a state legislature wherever within the nation.

She later served on the Maricopa County Superior Court and a state appeals courtroom.

Reagan’s nomination of O’Connor fulfilled his promise to make a woman certainly one of his first appointments to the nation’s highest bench.

After greater than 20 years on the bench and years of serving because the Supreme Court’s preeminent swing vote, O’Connor in 2005 introduced her intent to retire to take care of her husband, who was affected by Alzheimer’s illness. He died in 2009.

John Roberts was initially appointed by then-President George W. Bush as O’Connor’s successor, however after Chief Justice William Rehnquist died, Roberts as a substitute stuffed Rehnquist’s seat. O’Connor was finally changed by Justice Samuel Alito.

“A daughter of the American Southwest, Sandra Day O’Connor blazed an historic trail as our Nation’s first female Justice,” Roberts mentioned in an announcement.

“She met that challenge with undaunted determination, indisputable ability, and engaging candor. We at the Supreme Court mourn the loss of a beloved colleague, a fiercely independent defender of the rule of law, and an eloquent advocate for civics education,” he continued. “And we celebrate her enduring legacy as a true public servant and patriot.” 

Since leaving the bench, O’Connor grew to become a number one advocate for civics training, founding and main iCivics.

“I feel so strongly about the topic because I’ve seen first-hand how vital it is for all citizens to understand our Constitution and unique system of government, and participate actively in their communities,” she wrote years later. 

“It is through this shared understanding of who we are that we can follow the approaches that have served us best over time — working collaboratively together in communities and in government to solve problems, putting country and the common good above party and self-interest, and holding our key governmental institutions accountable.”

O’Connor’s 2018 withdrawal from public life got here with an announcement she was recognized with the start phases of dementia, “probably” the identical illness that her husband.

Current justices have continued to additional O’Connor’s mission. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who grew to become the third woman to (*93*) on the Supreme Court, sits on iCivics’s board, and a number of justices have participated in occasions with the group.

O’Connor is survived by her three sons, Scott, Brian and Jay, six grandchildren and her brother, Alan.

Updated at 10:55 a.m. ET



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