Sandra Day O'Connor
Former Associate Justice
Sandra Day O'Connor was elected judge of the Maricopa County Superior Court, Phoenix, Arizona and served from 1975 to 1979. Appointed to the Arizona Court of Appeals by Governor Bruce Babbitt, serving from 1979 to 1981. O'Connor was nominated by President Reagan to become Associate Justice on July 7, 1981 and was confirmed by the United States Senate on September 21, 1981. The first woman ever appointed to the United States Supreme Court, she took oath on September 25, 1981.
Sandra Day O'Connor was born on March 26, 1930 in El Paso, Texas, the daughter of Harry A. Day and Ada Mae Wilkey Day, but grew up in southeaster Arizona on a cattle ranch owned by her parents. She married John Jay O'Connor III in 1952 and has three sons, Scott, Brian, and Jay.
Sandra attended the Radford School, from kindergarten until 12th grade in El Paso; she graduated with good marks. Following graduation from the private academy in Texas, she continued her studies at Stanford University, where she earned a B.A. in Economics in 1950, graduating magna cum laude. Subsequently, she attended Stanford Law School earning her LL.B. 1952, graduating third in her class in only two years (as opposed to the customary three years most require). Along the way, she served on Board of Editors for the Stanford Law Review and was a member of the prestigious Order of the Coif Legal society.
Appointed Arizona State Senator in 1969 and subsequently reelected to two two-year terms, serving in the Arizona State Senate from 1969 to 1974; elected twice as Senate Majority Leader, 1973-1974; served as Chairman of the State, County, and Municipal Affairs Committee in 1972 and 1973; also served on the Legislative Council, on the Probate Code Commission, and on the Arizona Advisory Council on Intergovernmental Relations. O'Connor was elected to the Maricopa County Superior Court in 1975 and appointed to the Arizona Court of Appeals in 1979, serving until 1981 when appointed to the United States Supreme Court.
Legal Positions :
O'Connor accepted the position as Deputy County Attorney of San Mateo County, California, 1952 to 1953, and Civilian Attorney for Quartermaster's Market Center, Frankfurt, Germany, 1954 to 1957. When O'Connor returned to the U.S. in 1957, she and her husband decide to settle in Phoenix, where she started her own firm with a single partner from 1958 to 1960. She took five years off to raise her children, and then returned as Assistant Attorney General, Arizona, 1965 to 1969. When Arizona Governor Jack Williams resigned in Washington D.C., O'Connor was appointed the seat and held the senate position for more than two terms, meanwhile becoming the majority leader.
O'Connor was a member of the Board of Directors of the Phoenix Historical Society, (1974-78), a member of Board of Junior Achievement, Arizona (1975 -79), a member and secretary of the Arizona Academy (1969-75), a member of the Board of Trustees of Stanford University (1976-81), a member of the Advisory Board and Vice President of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, Maricopa County (1977- 81), a member of the Liaison Committee on Medical Education in 1981, a member of the Board of Visitors of Arizona State University Law School in 1981, a member and later Vice President of the Soroptimist Club of Phoenix (1978-81), a member of the Salvation Army Advisory Board (1975-81), a President, and member of the Board of Trustees for The Heard Museum (1968-74, 1976-81), and a member of the National Board of the Smithsonian Associates, 1981 to present.
Sandra was a member of the Maricopa County Board of Adjustments and Appeals, (1963-64), Chairman of the Maricopa County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service (1960-62), member, State Bar of Arizona Committees on Legal Aid, Public Relations, Lower Court Reorganization, Continuing Legal Education; Chairman, Maricopa County Juvenile Detention Home Visiting Board (1963-64), a member of the Arizona State Personnel Commission (1968-69), a Chairman of the Arizona Supreme Court Committee to Reorganize Lower Courts (1974-75), a member of the Arizona Criminal Code Commission (1974-76), a member of the National Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (1974-76), Chairman of the Maricopa County Superior Court Judges' Training and Education Committee (1977-79), Vice Chairman of the Arizona Select Law Enforcement Review Commission (1979-80), and a member of the Anglo-American Exchange (1980-).
Memberships in Professional Organizations:
O'Connor is a member of the American Bar Association, State Bar of Arizona, State Bar of California, Maricopa County Bar Association, Arizona Judges' Association, National Association of Women Judges, Arizona Women Lawyers' Association.
The Changing of the Circuit Justice. (1986); "Swinford Lecture" (1985)."
More Biographical Information:
- Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's Twenty Years on the Supreme Court By Marci Hamilton
- 'A Reputation for Excelling': Sandra Day O'Connor From the New York Times. (Registration Required)
- Changed Path for Court? New Balance Is Held By 3 Cautious Justices From the New York Times. (Registration Required)
- Justice O'Connor From the Legal Information Institute (Cornell University).
- The Justices of the Supreme Court From the U.S. Supreme Court. In Adobe PDF format.
- Sandra Day O'Connor From Oyez.
- Sandra Day O'Connor From the Supreme Court History Society.
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