The 93-year-old Sandra Day O’Connor was the first female justice.

The first female justice, Sandra Day O'Connor, passes away at the age of 93.

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Testifying before the Senate Court Committee on July 25, 2012, in Washington, D.C., former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor discussed the importance of civics education in preserving an independent court. O'Connor passed away on Friday, December 1, 2023.

 

Testifying before the Senate Court Committee on July 25, 2012, in Washington, D.C., former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor discussed the importance of civics education in preserving an independent court. O’Connor passed away on Friday, December 1, 2023.

Washington: DC At ninety-three years old, the first female justice in the country has passed away. The court said that Sandra Day O’Connor, a trailblazing judge on the U.S. Supreme Court, passed away in Phoenix, Arizona, on Friday due to complications arising from severe dementia, most likely Alzheimer’s disease, and a lung ailment.

With a vote of 99 to 0, the entire Senate confirmed O’Connor in September 1981. President Ronald Reagan had nominated her.

O’Connor, a moderate who sat on the court until her retirement in 2006, often cast the deciding vote in significant cases that made it all the way to the Supreme Court during her almost 25 years as an associate judge.

During O’Connor’s tenure, the justices rendered decisions in high-profile cases such as Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, a 5-4 ruling that upheld the constitutional right to an abortion but allowed states to impose certain restrictions, and Bush v. Gore, which decided the 2000 presidential contest in George W. Bush’s favor. On both counts, O’Connor took the majority position.

Historian and journalist Evan Thomas said in 2019 while promoting his book “First: Sandra Day O’Connor” that “she was important.”

During a 24-year period, Thomas said that she cast the infamous “swing vote” 330 times.

Referring to other instances, such as Grutter v. Bullinger, which maintained the University of Michigan’s practice of considering race in law school admissions, he said, “And where it really mattered was in abortion rights and affirmative action.”

Justice Samuel Alito, O’Connor’s replacement, authored the majority decision in 2022 that overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, thereby ending federal abortion rights.

An “authentic civil servant” and “pioneer”

O’Connor “blazed a historic route as our nation’s first female justice,” according to a statement released by Chief Justice John Roberts on Friday.

With unwavering resolve, undeniable skill, and frank communication, she took on that task. Our dear colleague, a fiercely independent defender of the rule of law and a persuasive supporter of civics education, has passed away, and we at the Supreme Court are saddened by her passing. As a great public servant and patriot, we also commemorate her eternal legacy,” he said.

The “country mourns the departure of a towering figure in American law history,” according to a statement by Kentucky Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

From her election as the first female majority leader in American legislative history to her confirmation as the nation’s first female justice, Sandra Day O’Connor led with a determination and intelligence that disarmed opposition. “The legacy of her involvement in historic rulings revitalizing federalism during her first few years on the Court continues to echo in constitutional law,” McConnell said. “Her vote on the court regularly decided the majority in landmark cases.”

Parts of the Violence Against Women Act and a federal statute that made it illegal to carry a weapon within 1,000 feet of a school were among the regulations that O’Connor’s critical votes in two 5-4 rulings in the mid-1990s and early 2000s declared unlawful under the Commerce Clause.

O’Connor, according to Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer of New York, was the “conscience of the Court.”

In a statement made public on Friday, Schumer claimed that O’Connor “was one of the real historic figures of the 20th century.” Sandra Day O’Connor often casts the deciding vote in favor of American rights in case after case—against discrimination, for women’s rights, clean air protection, and voting rights protection. I express my condolences to the American people nationwide for her loss today.

In a Friday morning post on X, Louisiana’s Speaker of the House, Mike Johnson, called O’Connor a “trailblazer” and a “legal giant.”

He said that Justice O’Connor “motivated a generation of women—including the five female justices who preceded her—to forge a route that previously appeared unachievable” as the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court.

She never held the position of Chief Justice, but throughout her tenure, she was seen as the most powerful justice on the court.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, nominated by former President Bill Clinton in 1993; Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, nominated by former President Barack Obama in 2009 and 2010; Amy Coney Barrett, nominated by former President Donald Trump in 2020; and Ketanji Brown Jackson, nominated by President Joe Biden in 2022, were the women who succeeded O’Connor as justices of the Supreme Court.

Obama made public on Friday the well-known account of O’Connor’s difficulties in the 1950s to get employment in the legal industry as a woman, during which time she was hired as a legal secretary after being questioned about her typing abilities.

“Thankfully, she aimed a bit further for herself by becoming the first female judge on the U.S. Supreme Court,” Obama said. In addition to being a judge and lawmaker from Arizona, Sandra Day O’Connor also survived cancer and was a native of the Texas plains. Like the pilgrim in the poem she sometimes cited, she paved the way for other young women by creating a bridge that stands behind her. Michelle and I are thinking about Sandra’s family and all of those who were inspired and knowledgeable by her.

From the Southwest to the nation’s capital, O’Connor was raised on an Arizona ranch after being born in El Paso, Texas, on March 26, 1930.

At Stanford University, she graduated in 1952, almost at the top of her law school class.

In 1954 and 1957, O’Connor worked as a civilian attorney at the Quartermaster Market Center in Frankfurt, Germany, after starting her legal career as the deputy county attorney of San Mateo County, California.

After serving as Arizona’s associate attorney general from 1965 to 1969, O’Connor continued her legal career in Maryvale, Arizona, until 1960.

She began serving in the Arizona State Senate in 1969 and ultimately rose to the position of majority leader after leaving the attorney general’s office. She served many terms in the Senate.

She was elected to the Maricopa County Superior Court in 1975, where she served until her appointment to the Arizona Court of Appeals in 1979.

In a statement issued on Friday, Republican Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer said that O’Connor “represented the finest of Arizona and our whole nation.”

O’Connor was the young, independent daughter of ranchers who paved the way for her to join the nation’s highest court, and Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego referred to her as “a pioneer from day one.”

”Throughout her life, she broke over boundaries to become a successful working mother and lawyer. She achieved this by attending Stanford Law School, when many other universities would not admit female students. For myself and a great number of other Arizonans, she served as an inspiration,” Democratic State Senator Gallego said.

An important person for female lawyers

O’Connor is the author of five books, including “Out of Order: Stories from the History of the Supreme Court” (2013) and her memoir “Lazy B,” which was published in 2001 and recounts her upbringing and teenage years on a cattle ranch.

Following her 1988 diagnosis of breast cancer and subsequent surgery and treatment, O’Connor stayed on the high court bench.

A significant role in allowing more women to enter the legal sector is often attributed to O’Connor.

Nancy Pelosi, a former California House Speaker, said in a statement on Friday that O’Connor was “an icon for working moms and an example to women throughout the nation and beyond.”

In addition to breaking through barriers, her tenure on the bench exemplified the values that our country holds dear: bravery, honesty, loyalty, and fairness.  Although she mentored other women in the legal field, including our dear Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she insisted on not being the last, Pelosi remarked.

The National Archives blog’s editor, Jessie Kratz, noted in 2018 that only 36% of law school students were female when Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was nominated to the Supreme Court. By 2006, when O’Connor retired, that percentage had increased to 48%.

According to the court’s notification on Friday, O’Connor has three children and six grandchildren in addition to her brother Alan, with whom she co-wrote.

She lost her husband, John O’Connor, in 2009; their legendary relationship has received a lot of media attention.

As of Friday morning, the court had not yet made O’Connor’s funeral plans public.

Published by : Reshraman

 

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