Justice Sandra Day O’Connor
The court declared on Friday morning that Sandra Day O’Connor, the first female justice to serve on the Supreme Court, had passed away. The court stated that O’Connor, 93, passed away as a result of “complications related to advanced dementia.” Generations of female solicitors have been inspired by O’Connor. Including the five women who joined the high court following her nomination. They were inspired by her journey of achievement in a traditionally male-dominated field. She gained notoriety over time as a centrist conservative who often acted as the swing vote on contentious social issues.
After completing her studies at Stanford University, the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist was one of her classmates at Stanford Law School, where she eventually became friends with him. She would later wed John O’Connor, a fellow student.
Because of her sexual orientation, she was rejected by law firms after graduating. She eventually joined her husband in starting their own business. Later on, she was the first female majority leader to serve as a state senator from Arizona. In 1979, she served as a judge on the Arizona Court of Appeals in addition to the Maricopa County Superior Court.
President Ronald Reagan
President Ronald Reagan described O’Connor as “truly a person for all seasons. Possessing those unique qualities of temperament, fairness, intellectual capacity, and devotion to the public good which have characterised the 101 brethren who have preceded her” when he nominated her for the bench in 1981. O’Connor was well-known for her independence and self-reliance, qualities she developed as a young woman. while branding cattle, operating tractors, and shooting rifles on the Lazy B Ranch in Arizona.
During her Tenure
Because she cast the deciding vote in so many contentious cases during her tenure, the court was dubbed the “O’Connor Court” for a while. Her involvement in the 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which upheld a woman’s right to an abortion, is arguably what made her most famous. A state could no longer place a “undue burden” on a woman seeking an abortion, according to the recent ruling. A conservative court supported by three of President Donald Trump’s nominees would reverse the ruling in 2022. In 2003, O’Conner also penned a 5-4 ruling supporting the affirmative action policy of the University of Michigan Law School. Affirmative action will be reexamined, the Supreme Court declared nearly twenty years later.
She also wrote the 2004 court ruling that invalidated the post-9/11 detainee policy of the George W. Bush, stating that “a state of war is not a blank cheque.” However, she remained resolute in her support of states’ rights and sided with the conservative side of the bench in favour of Bush during the 2000 Bush v. Gore case that guaranteed the Republican candidate the presidency.
Before receiving her own diagnosis, O’Connor left the high court and went on to support Alzheimer’s research. She also created a website with the goal of inspiring youth to study civics. She leaves behind three sons after her husband passed away in 2009. O’Connor understood very well the importance of her status as the first female justice in history.
In a 2003 interview with CNN, O’Connor stated, “Let me tell you one reason why I think it’s important, and that is for the public generally to see and respect the fact that women are well-represented in positions of power and authority.” “That, unlike in the past, it is not an all-male government.”
Diagnosed with Dementia
O’Connor disclosed in a letter from 2018 that she had been diagnosed with early-stage dementia, most likely Alzheimer’s disease. She wrote, “Nothing has diminished my gratitude and deep appreciation for the countless blessings of my life. Even though the final chapter of my life with dementia may be trying.”
She passed away after witnessing a newly appointed court with a conservative slant reverse an abortion ruling she had assisted in drafting in 1992, shrink the boundaries between church and state, and focus on affirmative action—another issue close to her heart.
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