Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor dies aged 93

vt-author-image

By Kim Novak

Article saved!Article saved!

Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman to serve on the US Supreme Court, has died at the age of 93.

O'Connor had served as an associate justice on the Supreme Court from 1981 until 2006, and her death was confirmed by Chief Justice John Roberts.

Roberts said in a statement shared by NBC News, that O'Connor "blazed an historic trail as our nation's first female justice."

He added that the justices "mourn the loss of a beloved colleague, a fiercely independent defender of the rule of law, and an eloquent advocate for civics education."

wp-image-1263238946 size-full
Sandra Day O'Connor was a trailblazer in her field. Credit: T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images

According to the publication, O'Connor's cause of death was complications related to advanced dementia and respiratory illness.

O'Connor was the indisputable swing justice from the early 1990s until her retirement, and was often responsible for casting the deciding vote in the court's most contentious cases.

She grew up on a 160,000-acre cattle ranch, Lazy B, near the Arizona-New Mexico border, before going to the prestigious Stanford University law school, where she met her future husband John, as well as becoming friends with her classmate William Rehnquist, who went on to become the chief justice.

O'Connor spent four years working for the Arizona attorney general’s office, before being appointed to fill a vacancy in the state senate in 1969.

After her re-election, she became the first woman to be a state senate majority leader, before becoming a Maricopa County Superior Court judge.

Her appointment to the Supreme Court came when President Ronald Reagan was looking for the ideal candidate in 1981 after promising to appoint a woman to the court, and she came highly recommended.

wp-image-1263238947 size-full
O'Connor retired from the Supreme Court at the age of 75 in order to look after her husband until his death. Credit: Charles Ommanney/Getty Images

She had initially been against universal abortion rights, saying at the time: "My own view in the area of abortion is that I’m opposed to it as a matter of birth control or otherwise," however, she later joined the court’s majority in a series of cases upholding abortion rights.

O'Connor had revealed the "thrill" of being a trailblazer in her field, stating: "It’s thrilling, in a way, to be the first to do something, the first woman ever to serve on the court. But it’s dreadful if you’re the last. And if I didn’t do the job well, that’s what would happen."

She and John married in 1952 and had three children, and seven years after she was appointed to the court, O'Connor underwent surgery for breast cancer, which she said "fostered a desire in me to make each and every day a good day" after that.

O'Connor announced her intention to step down from the Supreme Court at the age of 75, revealing that she wanted to help care for her husband, who had Alzheimer's disease, and who eventually died in 2009 at the age of 79.

Our thoughts are with O'Connor's loved ones at this time.

Featured image credit: David Madison / Getty Images

 

Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor dies aged 93

vt-author-image

By Kim Novak

Article saved!Article saved!

Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman to serve on the US Supreme Court, has died at the age of 93.

O'Connor had served as an associate justice on the Supreme Court from 1981 until 2006, and her death was confirmed by Chief Justice John Roberts.

Roberts said in a statement shared by NBC News, that O'Connor "blazed an historic trail as our nation's first female justice."

He added that the justices "mourn the loss of a beloved colleague, a fiercely independent defender of the rule of law, and an eloquent advocate for civics education."

wp-image-1263238946 size-full
Sandra Day O'Connor was a trailblazer in her field. Credit: T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images

According to the publication, O'Connor's cause of death was complications related to advanced dementia and respiratory illness.

O'Connor was the indisputable swing justice from the early 1990s until her retirement, and was often responsible for casting the deciding vote in the court's most contentious cases.

She grew up on a 160,000-acre cattle ranch, Lazy B, near the Arizona-New Mexico border, before going to the prestigious Stanford University law school, where she met her future husband John, as well as becoming friends with her classmate William Rehnquist, who went on to become the chief justice.

O'Connor spent four years working for the Arizona attorney general’s office, before being appointed to fill a vacancy in the state senate in 1969.

After her re-election, she became the first woman to be a state senate majority leader, before becoming a Maricopa County Superior Court judge.

Her appointment to the Supreme Court came when President Ronald Reagan was looking for the ideal candidate in 1981 after promising to appoint a woman to the court, and she came highly recommended.

wp-image-1263238947 size-full
O'Connor retired from the Supreme Court at the age of 75 in order to look after her husband until his death. Credit: Charles Ommanney/Getty Images

She had initially been against universal abortion rights, saying at the time: "My own view in the area of abortion is that I’m opposed to it as a matter of birth control or otherwise," however, she later joined the court’s majority in a series of cases upholding abortion rights.

O'Connor had revealed the "thrill" of being a trailblazer in her field, stating: "It’s thrilling, in a way, to be the first to do something, the first woman ever to serve on the court. But it’s dreadful if you’re the last. And if I didn’t do the job well, that’s what would happen."

She and John married in 1952 and had three children, and seven years after she was appointed to the court, O'Connor underwent surgery for breast cancer, which she said "fostered a desire in me to make each and every day a good day" after that.

O'Connor announced her intention to step down from the Supreme Court at the age of 75, revealing that she wanted to help care for her husband, who had Alzheimer's disease, and who eventually died in 2009 at the age of 79.

Our thoughts are with O'Connor's loved ones at this time.

Featured image credit: David Madison / Getty Images