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Sandra Day O'Connor
(b. March 26, 1930)
In 1981, President Ronald Reagan nominated Sandra Day O'Connor for the U.S. Supreme Court. She was confirmed by the Senate 99-0 and sworn in September of that year, making her the first woman justice in the court's history.
Graduating high in her class at Stanford Law School, her road to Washington, D.C., wasn't so forthcoming. O'Connor set out to find a job as a lawyer but was repeatedly turned down by firms that would not hire women. The one job offer she received was for a position as a legal secretary. Instead of becoming a secretary, she accepted a position as a deputy county attorney in San Mateo, Calif.
After moving to Arizona, she went on to serve the state as an assistant attorney general and state senator. She was elected majority leader in 1972, the first woman to hold such office anywhere in the United States. In 1974 O'Connor won a hard-fought election to a state judgeship on the Maricopa County Superior Court. Five years later, the Democratic governor selected her as his first appointee to the Arizona Court of Appeals. Two years later, she replaced Justice Potter Stewart on the Supreme Court.
Over time O'Connor earned a reputation on the bench as a moderate conservative. She also made it clear that the high court's role in American society was to interpret the law, not to legislate. On July 1, 2005, she announced her retirement, effective with the nomination and confirmation of her successor. Justice Samuel Alito was sworn in on Feb. 1, 2006, thus marking the end of O'Connor's accomplished Supreme Court career. A month later she was appointed to the Iraq Study Group, a ten-person, bipartisan panel charged by the United States Congress to conduct an independent assessment of the situation in Iraq and to make recommendations regarding U.S. involvement in the region.
Related Library Resources :
- Law Day 2005: The Jury and American Democracy (Library of Congress Information Bulletin, June/July/August 2005 - Vol. 64, No. 6/7/8)
- Sandra Day O'Connor Related Library Resource
- “Tunisia: Celebrating Fifty Years of Women's Emancipation” (webcast)
- Women and the Law: Panel Examines Women's Use of Law to Change Lives (Library of Congress Information Bulletin, September 2003 - Vol. 62, No. 9)