Sandra Day O'Connor

Sandra Day O’Connor was a respected politician and the first female justice to serve on the US Supreme Court, serving from 1981 to 2006. She was appointed by President Ronald Reagan. She served as a Maricopa County Superior Court judge from 1975 to 1979.

O’Connor was the most powerful female judge of the 20th century, issuing rulings in several high-profile cases during her tenure, including Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), United States v. Lopez (1995), Bush v. Gore (2000). and Grutter v. Bollinger (2003).

O’Connor began her career as a deputy county attorney for San Mateo County, California. She served as a civilian attorney for Germany from 1954 to 1957 and as an Assistant Attorney General for Arizona from 1965 to 1969.

O’Connor was a distinguished and respected female judge who received numerous awards for her significant contributions to women’s empowerment, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2009), the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement (1987), a Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Association Of Women Judges Association (2006).

Early Life

Sandra Day O’Connor was born on 26 March, 1930 in El Paso, Texas, United States. She grew up in Arizona.

O’Connor’s father, Harry Alfred Day, was a cattleman and mother, Ada Mae (Wilkie), was a housewife. Her childhood was spent riding horses, herding cattle and helping his parents with farm work.

O’Connor received her early education from the local Radford School for Girls. She graduated from Austin High School as valedictorian in 1946 at the age of 16.

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After earning a bachelor’s degree in economics from Stanford University in 1950, she worked as an economist for the US Department of Justice.

In 1952, O’Connor faced gender discrimination at Stanford Law School and managed to obtain a law degree. She graduated third in his class and was awarded the Order of the Coif, a prestigious honor given to top law students.

Career

Sandra Day O’Connor began her career as a deputy county attorney for San Mateo County, California. She then served as a civil lawyer for the Quartermaster Market Centre, Frankfurt, Germany from 1954 to 1957.

O’Connor was appointed Assistant Attorney General of Arizona in 1969 where he served for six years. She became the first woman to lead the Republican caucus in the Arizona State Senate, demonstrating her political acumen and leadership skills.

O’Connor was appointed as a Maricopa County Superior Court judge in 1975, where she served until 1979. And became the first woman to be promoted to the Arizona Court of Appeals. In 1979, Arizona Governor Bruce Babbitt appointed O’Connor to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Supreme Court Justice

Sandra Day O’Connor was nominated to the Supreme Court of the United States by President Ronald Reagan on August 19, 1981. She was appointed as a female judge after being confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 99-0. She became the first woman judge to serve in the Supreme Court.

O’Connor served on the Supreme Court for 24 years and retired in 2006. During her tenure, she ruled on several important cases, including those related to abortion, affirmative action, and campaign finance.

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After retiring from the Supreme Court, O’Connor succeeded Henry Kissinger as chancellor of the College of William & Mary. After this she did many important works for women and girls. She founded the Sandra Day O’Connor Institute for American Citizenship which provides civics education programs for school children.

Awards and Achievements

Sandra Day O’Connor received many awards and honors throughout her life and career including,

  • Elizabeth Blackwell Award (1985): The Elizabeth Blackwell Award is presented from time to time to a woman who has demonstrated “outstanding service to mankind”.
  • US Senator John Heinz Award (2004): US Senator John Heinz Award for greatest public service by an elected or appointed official.
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, The National Association of Women Judges Association (2006).
  • Silver Anniversary Leadership Award (2007)
  • Golden Plate Award (1987)
  • O’Connor was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1995.
  • O’Connor was inducted into the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum’s Hall of Great Westerners in 2001.
  • O’Connor was inducted into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame in Fort Worth in 2002.
  • Presidential Medal of Freedom Award (2009): On August 12, 2009, O’Connor was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.

Apart from this, O’Connor was also awarded several honorary degrees, including a Doctorate of Law, from more than 50 universities..

Net worth

Sandra Day O’Connor has an estimated net worth around of $8 million . She was a respected politician and the first female justice to serve in the US Supreme Court.

As a Supreme Court Justice, O’Connor received a salary of $203,000 per year. She also invested some part of her wealth in stocks, bonds and real estate.

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Personal Life

Sandra Day O’Connor was married to John Jay O’Connor III in 1952. They have one daughter and three sons namely daughter Andrea and sons Scott (born 1958), Brian (born 1960) and John Jay (born 1962) IV.

John Jay O’Connor was a lawyer and politician. She served as a judge on the Arizona Court of Appeals from 1970 to 1974, and as a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives from 1975 to 1983.

John died in 2005. She first met O’Connor while studying at Stanford Law School. They got married six months after graduating from law school.

Brief description about Sandra Day O’Connor’s three sons:

  • Scott O’Connor: Scott is the eldest son of Sandra Day O’Connor who was born in 1958. He is a retired lawyer and businessman. He graduated from Stanford Law School and worked as a corporate lawyer in Phoenix, Arizona. He later co-founded a technology company and served on the boards of several public companies.
  • Brian O’Connor: Brian is the second son of Sandra Day O’Connor who was born in 1960. He is a retired lawyer and historian. He graduated from Stanford Law School and worked as a lawyer in Arizona and California. She later served as director of the Sandra Day O’Connor Institute for American History.
  • Jay O’Connor: Jay is the third and youngest son of Sandra Day O’Connor who was born in 1962. He is a businessman. He graduated from Stanford University and worked in the technology industry. He later founded a non-profit organization that provides civics education to children.

Sandra Day O’Connor died on December 1, 2023, at the age of 93. She died at Phoenix, Arizona, of complications related to Alzheimer’s and respiratory disease.

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