Facts, information and articles about Sandra Day O’ Connor, First Woman Supreme Court Justice and famous woman In history

Sandra Day O'Connor

Sandra Day O’ Connor Facts




John J. O’Connor


Associate Justice Supreme Court of The United States

In Office

September 21, 1981 – January 31, 2006


First woman appointed to Supreme Court

Sandra Day O’ Connor summary: Sandra Day O’Connor was born on March 26, 1930, in El Paso, Texas. Her parents were Harry A. Day and Ada Mae Day (maiden name Wilkey). She spent her childhood on her parents’ Lazy-B-Cattle Ranch in southeastern Arizona, before being sent to live with a maternal grandmother in El Paso in order to receive a formal education.

After graduating from the Radford School, a private academy in El Paso, at age 16, she studied economics at Stanford University and in 1950, Sandra Day received her B.A., graduating magna cum laude. She continued her education at the Stanford Law School, graduating with her LL.B. in two years rather than the usual three. Sandra dated the valedictorian of her class, William Rehnquist, for a brief time while they were both in law school. Later, both served on the Stanford Law Review, Rehnquist as editor in chief. He graduated at the top of their class; she graduated third in a class of 102.

December 20, 1952, Sandra Day married John J. O’Connor, III. They had three children, Scott, Brian and Jay. Her husband died in 2009, after almost two decades of struggling with Alzheimer’s Disease.

When she graduated from law school, she applied for jobs at about forty law firms, none of which would hire a woman. She finally offered to work without pay. It was then that San Mateo County offered a job as the deputy county attorney of San Mateo, California. She had no office but shared a common area with the county secretary. When her husband was drafted into military service with the Judge Advocate General Corps, she joined him in Frankfurt, Germany, and served as a civilian lawyer in the Quartermaster’s Corps. After John completed his military service, they settled in Phoenix, Arizona, and she opened her own firm with one partner.

After a five-year hiatus from practicing law, in order to raise her first two children, she became an assistant attorney general in the state of Arizona until Governor Jack Williams appointed her to fill a vacancy in the state senate. She won two more terms and became the first woman in the United States to become a majority leader in state government. She is a member of the Republican Party.

In 1981, President Ronald Reagan nominated her for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, fulfilling a campaign promise he had made to name a woman to the court. Both liberal and conservative factions had concerns about how she would vote. Generally she voted with the Court’s conservative faction but often sought to limit the scope of some of the Court’s decisions. She cast  the deciding vote in a number of prominent cases. At present, she is giving her service as a Board of Trustee member to the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.