Remembering the Life of Sandra Day O’Connor 

Sandra Day O’Connor became the first female Supreme Court Justice in 1981.

Today, four of the nine justices in the US Supreme Court are women. It wasn’t always that way. Before 1981, no women had been on the US Supreme Court. Then, Sandra Day O’Connor changed all of that. Let’s take a look at her remarkable life. 

Justice O’Connor grew up on a cattle ranch. It was on the border between New Mexico and Arizona. She attended Stanford Law School. She was one of the best students in her class. She had trouble finding work as a lawyer. Law firms at the time did not want to hire women. She did not give up. At her first job, she worked for free.  

The Supreme Court is the highest court in the United States. It decides whether a law obeys the US Constitution or not. There are nine US Supreme Court Justices. The president appoints a US Supreme Court Justice. The US Senate votes to confirm or deny the justice. When President Ronald Reagan appointed Sandra Day O’Connor, the Senate voted 99-0 to confirm her. 

O’Connor served on the US Supreme Court from 1981 until 2006. After she retired, she devoted her time to promoting civics education. 

By becoming a US Supreme Court Justice, Sandra Day O’Connor created more opportunities for women. More women went to law school. More women became lawyers. More women became judges. Since O’Connor, five more women have been appointed as US Supreme Court Justices. Today, four of the nine US Supreme Court Justices are women.   

On Friday, December 1, 2023 Sandra Day O’Connor passed away. She was 93 years old. She will be part of history as the first female US Supreme Court Justice. 

What Do You Think? Justice O’Connorovercame many obstacles in life. What obstacles do you face in life? How can you overcome them? 

Photo Credit: Dane Penland, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States