Sandra Day O’Connor

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El Paso, Texas
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El Paso, Texas

Sandra Day O’Connor is a former Supreme Court associate justice of the United States of America. In 1981, she became the first woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States of America. She began her work at a time when women’s opportunities were few and far between. As a result, she got her first employment as a lawyer after knocking on a few doors and offering to work for free for an experienced lawyer. She was elected as Arizona’s first female Majority Republican Leader after years of hard work, and she later became an associate justice on the Supreme Court. She was a federalist with moderate Republican views who kept her opinions out of the courtroom and followed the Constitution of the United States as her guide. Throughout her career, she worked to empower women not just in the United States, but all throughout the world. She retired from the Supreme Court of the United States in 2006 after twenty-four years on the bench. The highest civilian accolade, the ‘Presidential Medal of Freedom,’ was bestowed upon her by then-US President Barack Obama in recognition of her contributions to the country.

Early life and childhood

Sandra was born in El Paso, Texas on March 26, 1930, to ranchers Harry and Ada Mae. She went to ‘Radford School for Girls’ and lived with her grandma.

She graduated sixth from ‘Austin High School’ in 1946. She enrolled at ‘Stanford University’ in 1950, with an insatiable appetite for knowledge, and graduated with a B.A. in Economics.
She was accepted into Stanford Law School for an LL.B degree and graduated two years later, in 1952, third in her class.

She found the phone numbers of numerous law firms hiring lawyers on a campus bulletin board. Despite numerous tries, no one was willing to hire a female lawyer.

Early on in your career

She eventually started working as a deputy county attorney in California with an advocate on the condition that she wouldn’t charge a salary until the advocate had enough money and that she wouldn’t have a designated office.

She later relocated to Germany and worked as a civilian attorney for the Army’s ‘Quartermaster Corps’ for three years before returning to the United States. When she returned, she volunteered for Arizona Senator Barry M. Goldwater’s presidential campaign.

She was appointed as the ‘Assistant Attorney General of Arizona’ for four years in 1965. She was elected as a Majority Leader to the State Senate in 1973 and afterward served on the ‘Maricopa County Superior Court’ until 1979.
She was promoted to the ‘Arizona State Court of Appeals,’ where she served in the ‘Court of Appeals-Division One.’

The Supreme Court of the United States

Reagan promised to nominate a woman to the Supreme Court during his 1980 presidential campaign, which he did on July 7, 1981, when he nominated Sandra Day O’Connor as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

Pro-life and religious organizations, as well as a few US Senate Republicans, have spoken out against her candidacy. Her appointment was ratified by the United States Senate, and she received more petitions from commoners in her first year than any other justice had ever received.

In her early years, she voted in lockstep with conservative William Rehnquist and approached cases with caution, avoiding broad generalizations.

The court became more conservative as time went by. In numerous situations, she was the swing vote, disappointing the court’s more liberal members. Her votes were split 82 to 28, with the former going to the conservatives.

Retirement and a Later Career

Though she opted to be neutral about abortion early in her career, she was eventually challenged by the ‘Planned Parenthood V. Casey’ case, which sparked controversy.

She did, however, assert that her opinions would have little impact on the wider public. As a result, she reaffirmed the restrictions on abortion availability in specific circumstances while simultaneously supporting the 14th Amendment’s right to abortion.

She was also a firm believer in international law. She concluded at the ‘Southern Center for International Studies’ that the court was moving toward a more global perspective while maintaining its home institutions. She believed that the American Supreme Court may adopt “transjudicialism” concepts.

She stepped down from the Supreme Court on January 31, 2006. President Bush selected Samuel Alito, a “Third Circuit Judge,” to succeed O’Connor.

Sandra’s Major Projects

O’Connor voted in favor of the majority in the case of Webster v. Reproductive Health Services. The ruling went against the ‘Roe V. Wade’ case’s trimester standards, but it was not enough to overturn Roe.

She and four other judges were faced with the ‘Bush v. Gore’ issue in 2000, which involved vote recounting in Florida during the presidential election. Bush was declared the winner, and he went on to become President.

She presided over her first Supreme Court oral argument in the ‘Kelo v. City of New London’s case later that year, when both her seniors – Stevens and Rehnquist – were absent.

Achievements & Awards

In 1985, ‘Hobart and William Smith Colleges’ presented her with the ‘Elizabeth Blackwell Award’ for her great devotion to mankind as a woman.

The ‘National Constitution Center’ in Philadelphia presented her with the ‘Liberty Medal’ in 2003, and the ‘John Heinz Award for civic service the following year.

The United States Military Academy presented O’Connor with the ‘Sylvanus Thayer Award’ in 2005. Her law school was renamed after her at Arizona State University.

The ‘National Conference on Citizenship’ presented her with the ‘Franklin Award’ on September 22, 2008. On August 12, 2009, President Barack Obama awarded her the ‘Presidential Medal of Freedom.’

‘The Majesty of the Law: Reflections of a Supreme Court Justice,’ published in 2003, ‘Finding Susie,’ published in 2009, and ‘Out of Order: Stories from the History of the Supreme Court,’ published in 2013.

Personal History and Legacy

On December 20, 1952, she married John Jay O’Connor III. Her husband has been the driving force in their lives since they married. The couple had three boys together, the eldest being Scott, followed by Brian and Jay.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1988, had a mastectomy, and only announced her treatment in 1994. Many expected her to retire from the court, yet she battled cancer and remained on the bench.

Her husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 1989. It was painful for her to see her husband’s memory deteriorate. He suffered from severe mental degeneration for twenty years until passing away in 2009.

But, before he died, she was awarded an honorary doctorate by Yale University on May 22, 2006, at its 305th commencement.

In the same year, she launched the ‘iCivics’ online education program for middle school pupils, which aims to help kids learn how the American government works.

Estimated Net worth

Sandra is one of the wealthiest Supreme Court Justices, as well as one of the most popular. Sandra Day O’Connor’s net worth is estimated to be $15 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.