Chat with us in Facebook Messenger. Find out what's happening in the world as it unfolds.

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.

Personal:
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.
    Timeline:
    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.
    February 25, 2014 - O'Connor publishes the book, "Out Of Order," which is based on the Supreme Court and its history.