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Sandra Day O’connor: The First Female Justice

2226 words - 9 pages

Sandra Day was born on March 26, 1930 in Arizona, but she moved to El Paso, Texas when she reached school age so that she could go to private school. After grade school, Ms. Day attended Stanford University and got her bachelor’s degree in economics. She then continued at Stanford to get her law degree. She graduated from Stanford Law at the top of her class, but she was unable to get a stable position in a law firm in California despite her achievements because in the early 1950s, there were very few opportunities for women in law. Ms. Day married John Jay O’Connor soon after graduating, thus gaining the ever so recognizable name Sandra Day O’Connor. Since she could not find work in a law firm, O’Connor became the Deputy County Attorney for San Mateo County in 1952, then went on to become an attorney for the United States army in Frankfurt, Germany until 1957. The O’Connors returned to the United States and Sandra opened a private practice in Phoenix, Arizona where she practiced law until she became an assistant state attorney general of Arizona for four years in 1965. O'Connor reportedly moved up rapidly in state politics by giving big parties and working on Barry Goldwater's 1964 presidential bid, but it can also be said that her hard work and diligent legal mind helped her rise to the top. After serving as an assistant state attorney general, she was appointed to the Arizona State Senate to fill a vacancy, and in 1970 she was elected as a Republican to a full Senate term. She served as majority leader from 1973 to 1974, and she was the first woman to serve in this position in any state senate. As a legislator, O'Connor was enthusiastic about the passage of the equal rights amendment, but she backed off when the national Republican Party showed a lack of interest in it. She was elected to the Superior Court of Maricopa County in 1975 and appointed to the Arizona Court of Appeals in 1979. O’Connor gained a reputation for being a firm, but just judge. All of these accomplishments distinguished Sandra Day O’Connor as an extremely successful attorney and senator, especially since she was the first woman to do a lot of the things she achieved. One of her biggest accomplishments, however, would occur just two years after her appointment to the Arizona Court of Appeals.
In 1981, Sandra Day O’Connor was nominated by President Ronald Reagan as a republican to the United States Supreme Court. At 51 years old, O’Connor was confirmed with a vote of 99-0 to become the first ever woman to serve on the Supreme Court. In appointing O’Connor, Reagan fulfilled a campaign promise to appoint a woman for the first time to the Supreme Court. O’Connor, a conservative Republic, was perfect for this highly anticipated appointment for President Reagan. The New York Times quoted President Reagan stating, “She is truly a 'person for all seasons,' possessing those unique qualities of temperament, fairness, intellectual capacity and devotion to the public good which have...

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