Sandra Day O'Connor, the first female justice to serve on the Supreme Court, has passed away at the age of 93.

Sandra Day O’Connor, the first female justice to serve on the Supreme Court, has passed away at the age of 93.

The Supreme Court announced that retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor passed away on Friday in Phoenix at the age of 93. O’Connor was a trailblazer as the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court.

passed away due to complications from advanced dementia, likely Alzheimer’s, and a respiratory illness, according to a statement from the court.

In 2018, she withdrew from public life due to a dementia diagnosis.

Former US Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor

On July 25, 2012, Sandra Day O’Connor, a retired Justice of the United States Supreme Court, passed away.

Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

Sandra Day O’Connor, a native of the American Southwest, made history as the first female Justice of our Nation, as stated by Chief Justice John Roberts. She fearlessly took on this role with determination, undeniable skills, and open honesty. The Supreme Court deeply grieves the passing of a dear colleague, a strong proponent of upholding the law, and an articulate supporter of civic education. Her lasting impact as a dedicated public servant and patriot is cause for celebration.

The right to abortion is protected by the constitution and was affirmed.

College admissions programs that take into account an individual’s race.. 

In the 2000 case Bush v. Gore, O’Connor was part of the 5-4 majority that ultimately determined the outcome of the election in favor of George W. Bush. She later continued her service as a justice on the doubts

In 2013, when discussing the court’s involvement in the election dispute, the individual stated to the Chicago Tribune that perhaps the court should have declined and ended the matter with a simple goodbye.

Sandra Day was born in 1930 in El Paso, Texas and raised on her family’s cattle ranch, known as the “Lazy B,” in southeastern Arizona. She was accepted into Stanford University at 16 and received her degree from Stanford Law in 1952, completing it in two years instead of the usual three. She ranked third in her class at Stanford Law, with a future Supreme Court colleague, Chief Justice William Rehnquist, coming in two spots ahead of her.

During her tenure in law school, she crossed paths with her spouse, John Jay O’Connor, who passed away in 2009 due to complications related to Alzheimer’s disease.

Upon entering the legal profession, O’Connor faced difficulty securing employment due to her gender. She received a single offer to work as a legal secretary at a Los Angeles firm, which she declined. Instead, she volunteered to work without pay for the county attorney in San Mateo County, California. Eventually, she was hired as a deputy county attorney and later worked as a civilian attorney with the Army Quartermaster Corps while her husband was stationed in Frankfurt, Germany.

Upon returning to the United States in 1957, O’Connor and her husband settled in the Phoenix region. There, she was granted admission to the bar and co-founded a private practice with another attorney. In 1965, she joined the Arizona Attorney General’s office as an assistant and was subsequently appointed to the Arizona State Senate in 1969. O’Connor was reelected twice and in 1972, became the first female majority leader in any state senate.

In 1974, O’Connor joined the judicial branch after being chosen to serve on the Maricopa County Superior Court. She held this position for four years before being selected for the Arizona Court of Appeals in 1979.

In the 1980 race for president, Reagan, who was the Republican nominee, promised that if he won, he would choose the first female justice for the Supreme Court. Reagan kept his word in 1981 when Justice Potter Stewart retired from the court.

O’Connor’s confirmation received an overwhelming vote of 99-0 in the Senate, making her the first female justice in the Supreme Court’s 191-year history. Currently, four women hold positions on the highest court, more than forty years after O’Connor’s groundbreaking appointment.

In 2009, ex-President Barack Obama presented O’Connor with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the most prestigious award for civilians in the country.

Throughout her 24-year tenure on the Supreme Court, O’Connor emerged as a pivotal swing vote in numerous cases, most notably in the 1992 ruling of Planned Parenthood v. Casey. In this case, the Court upheld its groundbreaking decision in Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion, with a majority opinion authored by O’Connor and joined by Justices Anthony Kennedy and David Souter.

In 2022, Justice Samuel Alito, who replaced O’Connor on the Supreme Court, wrote the majority opinion that reversed the decision of Roe and eliminated the legal protection for abortion under the Constitution.

In the case of Grutter v. Bollinger in 2003, O’Connor authored the majority decision where the court ruled 5-4 that the Constitution permits the limited consideration of race in admission choices.

In June, the Supreme Court ruled that race-based admissions programs at colleges and universities are not in line with the Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and must be discontinued.

In the beginning of 2006, O’Connor announced her retirement from the high court in order to care for her husband who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. However, even after leaving her position, she continued to promote civics education and established iCivics in 2009 to further civil learning.

Sonia Sotomayor, a member of the governing board of iCivics, remained dedicated to supporting O’Connor’s mission of promoting civics education.

On Saturday, President Biden referred to O’Connor as “an American symbol,” characterizing her as “devoted to a balanced and practical approach, striving for mutual understanding.”

Mr. Biden expressed that although he did not share all of her opinions, he greatly respected her integrity and steadfast commitment to truth, our nation, civic engagement, and the greater good.

In the face of discrimination, O’Connor persevered during a period when law firms frequently advised women to pursue secretarial jobs rather than becoming lawyers,” he continued. “She dedicated her life to serving the public, even holding positions in elected office, and always maintained a strong connection to the individuals that the law is designed to protect. She strived to avoid bias and was committed to upholding the rule of law and the fundamental American value of an impartial judicial system.

Justice O’Connor worked alongside only two of the current members of the high court, Justice Clarence Thomas and Roberts. However, all current members of the court commended her for the impact she had on both the court and the country.

Justice Elena Kagan praised O’Connor for her wise judgment, while Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson commended her for being both graceful and determined. Justice Amy Coney Barrett described O’Connor as a unique and independent Supreme Court justice.

“Barrett praised Sandra Day O’Connor as a crucial figure in American constitutional law, thanks to her keen intelligence and unwavering determination. She made the role her own, solidifying her legacy as a trailblazing pioneer.”

In 2018, O’Connor announced through a letter that she had been diagnosed with early onset dementia, probably Alzheimer’s disease, and stated that she would be unable to engage in public activities because of her condition.

“I am incredibly grateful to be an American and to have been given the incredible opportunities that are available to the people of our country,” she expressed. “Growing up as a young cowgirl in the Arizona desert, I never could have fathomed that one day I would make history as the first female justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Melissa Quinn