Get to know a (retired) Justice: Sandra Day O’Conner

Home » Get to know a (retired) Justice: Sandra Day O’Conner

Previously, we took a brief look at the storied life of presiding Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts. Today we are going to discuss the illustrious Sandra Day O’Conner, one of the most historically important justices to ever serve on the Supreme Court of the United States.

Sandra Day O’Conner was born on March 26, 1930, in El Paso, Texas. She split her childhood spending time there and on a cattle ranch located in our very own great state of Arizona! Her high school years were spent in El Paso, where she graduated from Austin High School in 1946.

She stayed true to her western roots and attended Stanford University for college. Four years later she graduated with a degree in economics. She then went on to attend Stanford Law School where she actually briefly dated future Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist. She also served on law review.

After graduating, Sandra Day O’Conner faced some rather unfortunate discrimination as she was denied positions at over 40 law firms strictly because she was a woman. As always, Judge O’Conner triumphed over adversity. She found employment as a deputy county attorney in San Mateo, California. She was later appointed to the Arizona State Senate.

On July 7, 1979, she was nominated to the United States Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan. She was the first woman ever appointed as a justice of the Supreme Court. Through determination, intelligence and hard work, she had shattered a glass ceiling some had thought would never be broken.

To honor Justice O’Conner’s Arizona roots, Arizona State University named its law school after her. The school was founded in 1965, and has been producing amazing graduates ever since.

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