Sandra Day O'Connor Fast Facts

Here is a look at the life of the first female justice on the United States Supreme Court, Sandra Day O'Connor.

Birth date:
March 26, 1930

Birth place: El Paso, Texas

    Birth name: Sandra Day

    Father: Harry A. Day, rancher

    Mother: Ada Mae (Wilkey), rancher

    Marriage: John Jay O'Connor III (1952-2009, his death)

    Children: Scott; Brian; Jay

    Education: Stanford University, B.A. in Economics (magna cum laude), 1950; Stanford Law School, LL.B, 1952

    Other Facts:
    In law school, was on the Stanford Law Review and third in her class.

    She completed law school in two years.

    She was a proponent of judicial restraint. At her confirmation hearings, she comments, "Judges are not only not authorized to engage in executive or legislative functions, they are also ill-equipped to do so."

    In retirement, O'Connor has campaigned around the United States to abolish elections for judges, believing that a merit system leads to a more qualified and untainted judiciary.

    1952-1953 -
    County deputy attorney in San Mateo, California.

    1955-1957- Works as a civilian lawyer for the Quartermaster Corps in Frankfurt, West Germany, while her husband serves with the Army's Judge Advocate General Corps.

    1959 - Opens a law firm in Maryvale, Arizona.

    1965-1969 - Assistant Attorney General of Arizona.

    1969 - Appointed to fill a vacant seat in the Arizona Senate.

    1970 - Elected to the Arizona Senate as a Republican.

    1972 - Re-elected to the Arizona Senate and elected Majority Leader. She is the first woman to hold that office in any state.

    1975-1979 - Superior Court judge of Maricopa County.

    1979-1981 - Judge of the Arizona Court of Appeals.

    July 7, 1981 - Nominated to the Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan, to fill seat of retiring Justice Potter Stewart.

    September 22, 1981 - Confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

    September 25, 1981 - Sworn in as the first female Supreme Court justice of the United States.

    1982 - O'Connor writes an opinion invalidating a women-only enrollment policy at a Mississippi State nursing school because it "tends to perpetuate the stereotyped view of nursing as an exclusively women's job." Mississippi University for Women, et al., v. Hogan

    October 21, 1988 - Has surgery for breast cancer after being diagnosed earlier in the year. She never releases the details of the surgery or any follow-up medical care.

    1996 - Writes the majority opinion in a 5-4 decision to restrict affirmative action policies and voting districts that are created to boost political power of minorities. Shaw v. Reno

    1999 - Writes the majority ruling opinion in the 5-4 sexual harassment ruling that public school districts that receive federal funds can be held liable when they are "deliberately indifferent" to the harassment of one student by another. Aurelia Davis v. Monroe County Bd. of Ed

    2000 - Votes with the majority in a 5-4 decision that struck down state laws banning the medical procedure that critics call "partial-birth" abortion. Stenberg v. Carhart

    December 2000 - Votes in the majority to end the recount in Florida which leads the way to George W. Bush becoming president over Al Gore. O'Connor and Anthony M. Kennedy are the only two justices who do not attach their names to either a concurring or dissenting opinion in that case. Bush v. Gore

    January 31, 2006 - Retires from the Supreme Court.

    January 24, 2008 - Hears oral arguments in the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. (A retired Supreme Court justice has the option to sit on lower federal courts).

    2008 - Develops the website, OurCourts which later becomes iCivics in 2009, a free interactive web-based program for middle school students on the U.S. court system. It allows students to investigate and argue actual cases and to participate in realistic government simulations.

    July 30, 2009 - Is awarded the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.

    May 2, 2012 - Announces an expansion of the educational nonprofit group iCivics to include the Boys & Girls Club of America, which has almost 4,000 clubs serving 4.1 million youths.