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President Ronald Reagan nominates Sandra Day O’Connor, an Arizona court of appeals judge, to be the first woman Supreme Court justice in U.S. On September 21, the Senate unanimously approved her appointment to the nation’s highest court, and on September 25 she was sworn in by Chief Justice Warren Burger.
Sandra Day was born in El Paso, Texas, in 1930. She grew up on her family’s cattle ranch in southeastern Arizona and attended Stanford University, where she studied economics. A legal dispute over her family’s ranch stirred her interest in law, and in 1950 she enrolled in Stanford Law School. She took just two years to receive her law degree and was ranked near the top of her class. Upon graduation, she married John Jay O’Connor III, a classmate.
Because she was a woman, no law firm she applied to would hire her for a suitable position, so she turned to the public sector and found work as a deputy county attorney for San Mateo, California. In 1953, her husband was drafted into the U.S. Army as a judge, and the O’Connors lived for three years in West Germany, with Sandra working as a civilian lawyer for the army. In 1957, they returned to the United States and settled down in Phoenix, Arizona, where they had three children in the six years that followed. During this time, O’Connor started a private law firm with a partner and became involved in numerous volunteer activities.
READ MORE: Women's History Milestones: A Timeline
In 1965, she became an assistant attorney general for Arizona and in 1969 was appointed to the Arizona State Senate to occupy a vacant seat. Subsequently elected and reelected to the seat, she became the first woman in the United States to hold the position of majority leader in a state senate. In 1974, she was elected a superior court judge in Maricopa County and in 1979 was appointed to the Arizona Court of Appeals by Governor Bruce Babbitt, a Democrat.
Two years later, on July 7, 1981, President Reagan nominated her to the Supreme Court to fill the seat of retiring justice Potter Stewart, an Eisenhower appointee. In his 1980 presidential campaign, Reagan had promised to appoint a woman to the high court at one of his earliest opportunities, and he chose O’Connor out of a group of some two dozen male and female candidates to be his first appointee to the high court.
O’Connor, known as a moderate conservative, faced opposition from anti-abortion groups who criticized her judicial defense of legalized abortion on several occasions. Liberals celebrated the appointment of a woman to the Supreme Court but were critical of some of her views. Nevertheless, at the end of her confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill, the Senate voted unanimously to endorse her nomination. On September 25, 1981, she was sworn in as the 102nd justice—and first woman justice—in Supreme Court history.
Initially regarded as a member of the court’s conservative faction, she later emerged from William Rehnquist’s shadow (chief justice from 1986 to 2005) as a moderate and pragmatic conservative. On social issues, she often voted with liberal justices, and in several cases she upheld abortion rights. During her time on the bench, she was known for her dispassionate and carefully researched opinions and was regarded as a prominent justice because of her tendency to moderate the sharply divided Supreme Court.
READ MORE: How Sandra Day O'Connor's Swing Vote Decided the 2000
O’Connor announced her retirement from the Supreme Court on July 1, 2005. Her decision sparked dismay among pro-choice groups who worried that President George W. Bush would choose a replacement likely to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established a woman’s right to an abortion. She was replaced by Samuel Alito, who became the court’s 110th justice in January 2006.
First Woman to Supreme Court
On September 25th,1981 Sandra Day O'Connor was sworn in as the first female judge on the Supreme Court. Mrs. O'Connor had been nominated by President Reagan. O'Connor paved the way for women and the court. By 2012 O'Connor who had retired could gaze on a court with 3 women judges.
Born in Texas, the daughter of a rancher Sandra Day went to Sanford University for both undergraduate and for a law degree. She served on the Law Review which whose editor in chief was William Rehnquist. After graduating she married a classmate John Jay O’Connor. Sandra Day O’Connor had trouble getting a job because of her gender. She initially worked for free and then worked for the US Army in Germany. From 1965 to 1969 O’Connor served as Assistant Attorney General of Arizona. In 1969 she was appointed to the Arizona Senate by the Governor after which she won a seat on her own. In 1974 she was elected to the Maricopa County Superior Court. She then went on to serve on the Arizona Court of Appeals.
President Reagan had pledged in his campaign that he would appoint a woman to the court. On July 7, 1981, Reagan announced the appointment of O’Connor to the court. On September 21 O’Connor was confirmed to the court by the Senate on a vote of 99-0.
Women’s History Month: First Female Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor
Most Americans have heard the name Sandra Day O’Connor, but did you know upon graduating from Stanford Law School in 1952, there were so few opportunities for female attorneys that she worked with no pay and without an office for the county attorney of San Mateo, California? She turned that opportunity into a paid position as deputy county attorney of the same county and her career excelled from there.
In 1981, President Ronald Reagan nominated Day O’Connor as the first female candidate to the Supreme Court of the United States. Despite opposition in the Senate, Day O’Connor was confirmed and served as the first female Justice from 1981 until her retirement in 2006, paving the way for Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and most recently Amy Coney Barrett. Day O’Connor’s most notable contribution was the proposal of the endorsement test under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
Day O’Connor had three children with her husband John, and spent five years raising her children before returning to the work force.
There is no doubt that Sandra Day O’Connor was a trailblazer and overcame obstacles at every point in her career opening the door for all female attorneys that came after her.
Out of Order : Stories from the History of the Supreme Court
“I called this book Out of Order because it reflects my goal, which is to share a different side of the Supreme Court. Most people know the Court only as it exists between bangs of the gavel, when the Court comes to order to hear arguments or give opinions. But the stories of the Court and the Justices that come from the ‘out of order’ moments add to the richness of the Court as both a branch of our government and a human institution.”—Justice Sandra Day O’Connor
From Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman to sit on the United States Supreme Court, comes this fascinating book about the history and evolution of the highest court in the land.
Out of Order sheds light on the centuries of change and upheaval that transformed the Supreme Court from its uncertain beginnings into the remarkable institution that thrives and endures today. From the early days of circuit-riding, when justices who also served as trial judges traveled thousands of miles per year on horseback to hear cases, to the changes in civil rights ushered in by Earl Warren and Thurgood Marshall from foundational decisions such as Marbury v. Madison to modern-day cases such as Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, Justice O’Connor weaves together stories and lessons from the history of the Court, charting turning points and pivotal moments that have helped define our nation’s progress.
With unparalleled insight and her unique perspective as a history-making figure, Justice O’Connor takes us on a personal exploration, painting vivid pictures of Justices in history, including Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., one of the greatest jurists of all time Thurgood Marshall, whose understated and succinct style would come to transform oral argument William O. Douglas, called “The Lone Ranger” because of his impassioned and frequent dissents and John Roberts, whom Justice O’Connor considers to be the finest practitioner of oral argument she has ever witnessed in Court. We get a rare glimpse into the Supreme Court’s inner workings: how cases are chosen for hearing the personal relationships that exist among the Justices and the customs and traditions, both public and private, that bind one generation of jurists to the next—from the seating arrangements at Court lunches to the fiercely competitive basketball games played in the Court Building’s top-floor gymnasium, the so-called “highest court in the land.”
Wise, candid, and assured, Out of Order is a rich offering of inspiring stories of one of our country’s most important institutions, from one of our country’s most respected pioneers.
Praise for Out of Order
“[A] succinct, snappy account of how today’s court—so powerful, so controversial and so frequently dissected by the media—evolved from such startlingly humble and uncertain beginnings.”—The New York Times
“A brief and accessible history of the nation’s highest court, narrated by a true historical figure and a jurisprudential giant.”—The Boston Globe
“A vibrantly personal book [that] displays O’Connor’s uncommon common sense, her dry wit and her reverence for the nation’s institutions.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch
“Full of riveting anecdotes . . . a compact history . . . albeit a more lighthearted, personality-filled one than you might find in a high school classroom.”—Associated Press
Sandra Day O'Connor
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Sandra Day O’Connor, née Sandra Day, (born March 26, 1930, El Paso, Texas, U.S.), associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1981 to 2006. She was the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court. A moderate conservative, she was known for her dispassionate and meticulously researched opinions.
Sandra Day grew up on a large family ranch near Duncan, Arizona. She received undergraduate (1950) and law (1952) degrees from Stanford University, where she met the future chief justice of the United States William Rehnquist. Upon her graduation she married a classmate, John Jay O’Connor III. Unable to find employment in a law firm because she was a woman—despite her academic achievements, one firm offered her a job as a secretary—she became a deputy district attorney in San Mateo county, California. After a brief tenure, she and her husband, a member of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General Corps, moved to Germany, where she served as a civil attorney for the army (1954–57).
Upon her return to the United States, O’Connor pursued private practice in Maryvale, Arizona, becoming an assistant attorney general for the state (1965–69). In 1969 she was elected as a Republican to the Arizona Senate (1969–74), rising to the position of majority leader—the first woman in the United States to occupy such a position. She later was elected a Superior Court judge in Maricopa county, a post she held from 1975 to 1979, when she was appointed to the Arizona Court of Appeals in Phoenix. In July 1981 President Ronald Reagan nominated her to fill the vacancy left on the Supreme Court by the retirement of Justice Potter Stewart. Described by Reagan as a “person for all seasons,” O’Connor was confirmed unanimously by the Senate and was sworn in as the first female justice on September 25, 1981.
O’Connor quickly became known for her pragmatism and was considered, with Justice Anthony Kennedy, a decisive swing vote in the Supreme Court’s decisions. In such disparate fields as election law and abortion rights, she attempted to fashion workable solutions to major constitutional questions, often over the course of several cases. In her decisions in election law she emphasized the importance of equal-protection claims ( Shaw v. Reno ), declared unconstitutional district boundaries that are “unexplainable on grounds other than race” ( Bush v. Vera ), and sided with the Court’s more liberal members in upholding the configuration of a congressional district in North Carolina created on the basis of variables including but not limited to race ( Easley v. Cromartie ).
In similar fashion, O’Connor’s views on abortion rights were articulated gradually. In a series of rulings, she signaled a reluctance to support any decision that would deny women the right to choose a safe and legal abortion. By “defecting” in part from the conservative majority in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services (1989)—in which the Court upheld a Missouri law that prohibited public employees from performing or assisting in abortions not necessary to save a woman’s life and that required doctors to determine the viability of a fetus if it was at least 20 weeks old—she reduced the Court’s opinion to a plurality. Through her stewardship in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey (1992), the Court refashioned its position on the right to abortion. The Court’s opinion, which O’Connor wrote with Justices Anthony Kennedy and David Souter, reaffirmed the constitutionally protected right to abortion established in Roe v. Wade (1973) but also lowered the standard that legal restrictions on abortion must meet in order to pass constitutional muster. After Casey, such laws would be considered unconstitutional only if they constituted an “undue burden” on women seeking to obtain an abortion.
In 2006 O’Connor retired from the Supreme Court and was replaced by Samuel Alito. She was the author of several books, including Lazy B (2002 cowritten with her brother, H. Alan Day), a memoir focusing on her family’s ranch, and Out of Order: Stories from the History of the Supreme Court (2013), a collection of anecdotes charting the genesis and maturation of the Supreme Court. O’Connor also wrote the children’s books Chico (2005) and Finding Susie (2009), both of which were based on her childhood experiences. In 2009 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In a letter in 2018 she announced that she had been diagnosed with early-stage dementia and would withdraw from public life.
Sandra Day O’Connor nominated to Supreme Court - HISTORY
Famous Person: SANDRA DAY O'CONNOR
Related Topics: Judicial System
Women in government
Grade Level: 4th/5th
Author: Blake Nichols
On July 7, 1981, President Ronald Reagan nominated Sandra Day O'Connor to be the first woman in history for the position of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. On September 22, 1981, Sandra Day O'Connor was officially confirmed to the Supreme Court with 91 votes of approval. She took the oath of office on September 26.
Sandra Day was born on March 26, 1930 in El Paso, Texas. Harry A. and Ada Mae Wilkey Day are her parents. Sandra grew up on her family's 155,000 acre Arizona ranch called the Lazy B. When Sandra was old enough to attend Elementary School, she was sent to live with her grandmother in El Paso. There Sandra received a better education than attending the small school close to her families ranch. Sandra graduated from Austin High School in Texas at the age of sixteen. Shortly after High School she attended Stanford University. In 1950, Miss Day received a degree from Stanford in Economics. Two years later, she received her L.L.B. degree, graduating third in a class of 102 students. One of the two men who scored higher than Sandra is William H. Rehquist who became Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Six months after Sandra's graduation, she married a Law student named John Jay O'Connor, whom she met while working on the Stanford Law Review. They had 200 guests attend the wedding at the Lazy B ranch.
Mrs. O'Connor promptly began looking for a job, but encountered much sex discrimination in the work force. Even though she was one of the highest qualified for the jobs, the firms were not prepared for a female worker and they did not want to change their policies. Eventually Sandra received a job working for Gibson, Dunn and Cruther in Los Angeles as a legal secretary. Amazingly enough, one of the firm's partners was future United States Attorney General, William French Smith who would one day advise the President of the United States to appoint Sandra Day O'Connor to the Supreme Court.
In 1953 John was drafted into the army during the Korean War, and stationed in Frankfurt, West Germany. There Sandra was hired as a civilian lawyer for the Quartermaster Corps. Three years later John's tour of duty was over.
In December, 1956 the O'Connors built a new house in Phoenix, Arizona. Phoenix is where Sandra's life changed dramatically. On October 8, 1957, she gave birth to her first child Scott Hampton O'Connor. Within the next five years, she had two more sons, Brian and Jay. During Sandra's child rearing years, she performed different part-time jobs as a lawyer. She would take cases that dealt with landlord-tenant, domestics, and even people who could not afford lawyers. In 1960 she served as a county precinct committee member for the Republican party, and in 1962 to 1965 as legislative district chairman. In 1965, when her youngest son turned three, Sandra reentered the legal profession.
Sandra Day O'Connor was appointed State Senator in 1969 and was reelected to two two-year terms in Arizona. She was elected Senate Majority Leader in 1972. In 1979, she was elected judge of the Maricopa County Superior Court, Phoenix, Arizona for four years. She was appointed to the Arizona Court of Appeals by Governor Bruce Babbitt from 1979 to 1981. And next, Sandra Day O'Connor was nominated by President Ronald Reagan as Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
This is the life of the first woman to sit on the Supreme Court. Sandra Day O'Connor found her way through hard times of sexual discrimination and eventually obtained some of her goals. Sandra supports her Republican beliefs which remain moderate to conservative. The most important contribution to women that Sandra offers is the fact that she is a strong, competent, qualified and respected Justice on the Supreme Court. Sandra Day O'Connor has blazed a trail for women of all ages.
Huber, Peter W. (1990). Sandra Day O'Connor. New York, NY: Chelsea House.
Davis, Anita P. Dr. and Selvidge, Marla J. Dr. (1995). Focus on Women . Huntington Beach, CA: Teacher Created Materials.
O'Connor, Sandra Day. (1996). Pioneer. Utah's Online Electronic Library . [On-Line]. Available: http://sbweb2.med.iacnet.com/infotrac/session/476/35/1500033/7?xrn_5.
Time Allotment : Approximately one week or 5 class periods.
Resources Needed :
Resources of successful women
Procedures of an actual court case
Guest speaker (local judge or lawyer)
Index cards with questions and answers listed
Court room supplies
Think-Pair-Share . After reading the background of Sandra Day O'Connor, individually, have the students think of and write down important achievements and positions that Sandra Day O'Connor has held. Arrange the students into pairs and have them compare answers together. As a class, make a list of important achievements and positions Sandra Day O'Connor has held.
2. Turn-2-Think . In groups of four or five, pass out question cards relating to Sandra
. Day O'Connor's achievements and positions and the dates when she achieved them.
Pass out answer cards separate the question cards. Have one person read the question
card and the person sitting to the left answer the question. Check the answers as you
3. Guest Speaker . After discussing with the students that Sandra Day O'Connor has held
many positions, like being a Lawyer and a Judge, have a local Lawyer or Judge visit
the class and explain some of the work that they do. Have the guest discuss some of
the procedures that are done in an actual court room. Remind the students that Sandra
Day O'Connor has held both positions.
4. Role Play . Using the information received by the guest speaker and researching more,
prepare a mock trial in the classroom. State an issue that the students may be aware of
and then assign create positions for the students to play. Positions are as follows: a
Judge, Jury, Defendant, Lawyers, Clerk, Security, etc.. Try to include the whole class
in the court case. Remember that the students are in charge.
Jig Saw . Like Sandra Day O'Connor, there are many other great women who have
achieved outstanding things. Allow the students library time to find other great
women. Student partners can be allow also. After the information has been found,
arrange students with different students and share the information. Make sure
everyone gets a chance to share their findings.
Mini-Lecture . Using all the information given thus far, review Sandra Day O'Connor
and her achievements. Reflect on the guest speaker and their information concerning
court cases. Remember to discuss other important women and what they have
Learning Journal . In the students learning journal, have the students reflect what they
they have learned about Sandra Day O'Connor. Have them reflect what they have
learned about court cases. Last, have the students write down some goals and
achievements that they would like to achieve in the future.
Group lists in Think-Pair-Share will be assessed through teacher observation.
Groups will be monitored for question/answer accuracy while performing the Turn-2-Think activity.
A one page paper will be assessed concerning the guest speaker and what was said.
A Sandra Day O'Connor achievement and position time line will be assessed.
Learning Journals will be handed in and reviewed by the teacher. No grade will be given.
How the Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor Helped Preserve Abortion Rights
In many U.S. states, abortion was once a crime. It may be again, if Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who just finished her third fight with cancer, leaves the Supreme Court during the Trump Presidency. If, as is widely speculated, Trump nominates Judge Amy Coney Barrett, of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, to take Ginsburg’s place, women would be at serious risk of losing their constitutionally protected right to abortion. Judge Barrett would become the fifth woman appointed to the Supreme Court in its two-hundred-and-thirty-year history. The story of how the first female Justice, Sandra Day O’Connor, dealt with abortion law reveals much about why this issue is so difficult, and why we may be headed back to the age of proverbial back alleys.
In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, 7–2, in the landmark case of Roe v. Wade, that women have a constitutional right to abortion. The decision, written by Justice Harry Blackmun, gave women an unfettered right to abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy, limited thereafter by the state’s interest in the mother’s health and in protecting a “viable” fetus that could live outside the womb. In an epic miscalculation of the mood of American politics, the majority of Justices seemed to believe that they were merely putting the court’s imprimatur on a social liberalization whose time had come. Almost immediately, a backlash erupted from the new Christian right. The Reverend Jerry Falwell claimed that he had an epiphany when he read news of the Roe v. Wade decision, on January 23, 1973. He instantly knew in his heart, he said, that evangelicals needed to organize into a vast pro-life movement to undo the Supreme Court’s decision. By 1980, Falwell’s organization, the Moral Majority, would try to make abortion a litmus test for millions of voters all over the country, particularly those voting in Republican primaries. Various G.O.P.-controlled state legislatures began passing laws seeking to outright overturn Roe, or to test how much they could limit women’s choice.
When, in 1981, Ronald Reagan nominated Sandra Day O’Connor to the Supreme Court, her views on abortion became a source of intense speculation. At her confirmation hearings, O’Connor, an Arizona appellate-court judge and a former Republican state senator, was folksy and disarming, if not entirely forthcoming, about her own views. She said she was opposed to abortion as a personal matter, as “birth control or otherwise,” but she added, “I’m over the hill. I am not going to be pregnant anymore, so it is perhaps easy for me.” (She was fifty-one and had undergone a hysterectomy three months earlier.) She was circumspect with everyone, including her family. It is almost certain that she never favored outlawing abortion altogether, but it is also likely that she struggled in her own mind to settle on the proper legal limits. In the coming years, when the Roe decision came under fire from conservative activists and the Supreme Court’s balance shifted toward the Republican Party, her struggle became the whole country’s.
The pro-life movement showed up at the Supreme Court on January 22, 1983, on the tenth anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Thousands of protesters thronged outside, in part because the Justices had agreed to take another abortion case, City of Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health, Inc. In Ohio, the City of Akron implemented rules requiring women to sign “consent forms,” listen to a lecture from the doctor that a fetus is “human life from the moment of conception,” and return to the clinic after a twenty-four-hour waiting period before the abortion could be performed.
The Court voted on the Akron case in early December, and Justice O’Connor laid out her views in her personal notes. In her steady-handed script, she wrote, “There is simply no justification in Constitutional theory for having a different standard or test for the different trimesters. Seems it puts us in the business of being a science review board. The interest of the state in protecting the unborn is essentially the same at all stages of pregnancy. I would permit state regulations at every stage which do not unduly burden the right of the woman to terminate her pregnancy.”
O’Connor was moved less by constitutional theory than by the purely practical problems of judges trying to decide when a fetus was “viable,” or able to live outside the womb. Medical progress meant that “viability” would become earlier and earlier, which meant, as she later put it, that Blackmun’s trimester framework in Roe was “on a collision course with itself.” O’Connor was willing to let the states restrict abortions as long as they did not put an “undue burden” on the woman’s right to choose. The phrase “undue burden” had appeared in the Reagan Administration’s brief. It was a purposefully vague term, leaving plenty of room for the states and the courts to maneuver and litigate in the years to come. But, significantly, the Reagan Administration had not tried to overturn Roe completely. In June,1983, six Justices voted to knock down Akron’s restrictions, while three—O’Connor, William Rehnquist, and Byron White—voted to uphold them. Roe survived intact.
The crowds kept getting larger. On January 23, 1989, the sixteenth anniversary of Roe v. Wade, more than sixty thousand demonstrators assembled on the Mall to protest the famous decision. Over loudspeakers, the newly inaugurated President George H. W. Bush told them—and sent a not-so-subtle signal to the Supreme Court—that the time had come to overrule Roe. The political pressure of the anti-abortion movement had continued to mount: President Bush, once a Planned Parenthood–supporting moderate, had felt compelled to champion the right-to-life cause.
Two weeks earlier, the Court had agreed to rule in a case called Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, on a Missouri law sharply limiting abortion. Missouri legislators called it the “kitchen sink” law, because they had put in every restriction to abortion they could think of, from a preamble declaring that “life begins at conception” to prohibiting public hospitals from performing abortions that were not necessary to save the life of the mother. In O’Connor’s chambers, the mail stacked up—letters with photos of dead fetuses in one pile, letters with photos of coat hangers (symbol of back-alley abortions in the pre-Roe era) in another. “The Battle over Abortion,” was the cover line of Newsweek the week that the Webster case was argued before the Supreme Court, with a special focus on “Justice O’Connor’s Key Role.”
O’Connor’s understanding had deepened in the course of the past few years, as her eldest son, Scott, and his wife, Joanie, had tried to conceive. Finally, through a fertilization procedure, Joanie had become pregnant. On Mother’s Day, 1989, just over two weeks after the oral arguments in Webster, O’Connor joined her husband, son, and daughter-in-law to view an ultrasound video of her first grandchild. “We watched a terrific video of ‘Baby O’Connor’ at 4 ½ months since conception and about six inches long,” O’Connor’s husband, John, wrote in his diary that night. “I couldn’t help reflect that SOC was watching pictures of a fetus of her grandchild at a time when she was concurrently being viewed as the swing vote on the abortion issue.”
In the end, O’Connor went with an approach entirely consistent with her jurisprudence: to say as little as possible and to let the argument evolve through the delicate balance between legislatures elected by the people and judges sworn to protect the Constitution. She concluded that, properly read, the Missouri regulations did not impose “an undue burden” on a pregnant woman, her test from the Akron case, and that there was no need to revisit the constitutional validity of Roe v. Wade. In other words, the battle would return to the states, which could keep trying to restrict abortion—and keep trying to persuade the Court to throw out the embattled precedent.
In the winter of 1992, a hundred thousand people showed up at the annual right-to-life protest march on the Roe v. Wade anniversary. With the replacement of the liberal Thurgood Marshall by the conservative Clarence Thomas, it appeared likely that the Court would have five votes to overturn Roe. The state of Pennsylvania had enacted the most restrictive law yet: women wanting an abortion had to wait twenty-four hours after contacting a clinic to get one they had to undergo a mandatory lecture on fetal development and, if a woman was married, she had to notify her husband.
Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey was argued on April 22, 1992. Justice O’Connor awoke at 4:15 A.M. in “real pain,” John recorded. “She began shaking like a leaf and continued to shake for 5 to 10 minutes.” She was up by six and on her way to the Supreme Court. The immediate cause of her pain was a back injury, but she was also feeling the accumulated stress of too many years in the eye of the abortion storm. At the time of the Webster case, two leading feminist lawyers, Susan Estrich and Kathleen Sullivan, had authored a widely read, passionate defense of Roe v. Wade entitled “Abortion Politics: Writing for an Audience of One.” The one, as the legal and political world well understood, was Justice O’Connor.
The lawyer arguing to strike down the Pennsylvania abortion restrictions, Kathryn Kolbert, representing Planned Parenthood, adopted a radical strategy. She wanted to force the court to either affirm Roe outright—or reverse it. With polls showing that most people supported a woman’s right to choose, Kolbert was playing politics. Assuming that the Court reversed Roe, the pro-choice movement planned to make abortion rights a central issue of the 1992 Presidential campaign.
Today in Arizona history: Sandra Day O'Connor nominated to Supreme Court
Sandra Day O'Connor made history 33 years ago today when President Ronald Reagan nominated her as the first female Supreme Court justice.
Here's a look back at the Arizona resident's life and accomplishments.
1930: Sandra Day is born in El Paso, Texas on March 26, 1930. She splits her childhood between Texas and her family's 150,000-acre Lazy B cattle ranch near Duncan, not far from the Arizona-New Mexico border.
1952: Sandra Day marries fellow Stanford University student John Jay O'Connor III.
1957: O'Connor and her husband move to Arizona and build an adobe home in Paradise Valley. The home was moved brick by brick to Tempe by the Arizona Historical Society Museum in 2010.
1965: O'Connor is appointed as an assistant state attorney general.
1969: Arizona Republican Gov. Jack Williams appointed O'Connor to a vacant seat in the Arizona Senate. She subsequently won two elected terms.
1972: O'Connor's GOP state senate colleagues choose her to be the majority leader. She becomes the first woman in the country to hold such a position.
1974: O'Connor is elected as a Maricopa County Superior Court judge, which marks the beginning of a career on the legal bench.
1979: O'Connor is named to the Arizona Court of Appeals.
1981: O'Connor makes history when President Ronald Reagan appointed her as the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States.
1989: O'Connor refuses to overturn Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 case that upheld legal abortion rights.
2000: O'Connor helps form the 5-4 majority vote to end the recount in Florida that effectively handed the 2000 presidential election to George W. Bush.
2006: O'Connor retires from the Supreme Court and returns to Arizona.
2009: President Barack Obama gave Sandra Day O'Connor the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.
The 111th Justice, Sonia Sotomayor was born on June 25, 1954, in the Bronx, New York City and earned her law degree from Yale Law School in 1979. She served as a prosecutor in the New York County District Attorney's office and was in private practice from 1984 to 1992.
She became a federal judge in 1991, after nomination by George H. W. Bush, and joined the U.S. Court of Appeals in 1998 nominated by Bill Clinton. Barack Obama nominated her for the Supreme Court, and after a contentious Senate battle and a vote of 68–31, she took her seat on August 8, 2009, as the first Hispanic justice. She is considered part of the liberal bloc of the court, but places Constitutional and Bill of Rights principles ahead of any partisan considerations.
Senate Confirms O’Connor, 99-0
From The San Diego Union’s News Services
WASHINGTON — The Senate, ending an all-male tradition nearly two centuries old, unanimously confirmed Sandra Day O’Connor as an associate justice of the Supreme Court yesterday.
O’Connor, a 51-year-old Arizona state appeals judge, will be sworn in Friday in time to join the court for the opening of its 1981-1982 term on Oct. 5.
Te vote was 99-0. Only Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont. who was attending an economic conference in his home state, was missing from the tally. He had supported O’Connor in earlier committee action.
After the vote, O’Connor appeared on the steps of the Capitol with Senate leaders, Vice President George Bush and Attorney General William French Smith.
Grinning jubilantly, she said she was overjoyed by the depth of Senate support for her nomination.
“My hope is that after I’ve been across the street and worked for awhile that they’ll all feel glad for the wonderful vote they gave me today,” she said.
Once installed on the court, she said, “I’m going to get very busy, very fast.”
“Today is truly a historic occasion,” said Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee, leading off a series of 22 speeches in warm praise of President Reagan’s first high court nominee.
Hailing a “happy and historic day,” President Reagan said in a statement the confirmation of his nominee “symbolizes the richness of opportunity that still abides in America — opportunity that permits persons of any sex, age or race, from every section and walk of life, to aspire and achieve in a manner never before even dreamed about in human history.”
Senators praised the nominee’s composure on the witness stand, her demeanor at a formal reception and the fact that she can cite Supreme court opinions “as easily aas most people would recite their birthdates,” in the words of Sen. Barry Goldwater, R-Ariz., who has been one of O’Connor’s most enthusiastic supporters.
Republican leader Howard Baker declared it “a rare historic day that graces all branches of government.”
“We have finally reached a point in the history of the United States where gender is not a consideration,” said Democratic leader Robert Byrd.
As the vote neared, a small knot of conservatives who had questioned O’Connor’s views on abortions fell into line behind her nomination.
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