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Women of the Hall

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Year Honored: 1995
Birth: 1930 -
Born In: Texas, United States of America
Achievements: Government
Educated In: Texas, New Mexico, California
Schools Attended: Radford School, Lordsburg High School, Stanford University
Worked In: Arizona, California, District of Columbia

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Sandra Day O'Connor

Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman named to the U.S. Supreme Court, has made history through her appointment, breaking the ultimate "glass ceiling" in the legal profession. Named to the Court by President Reagan in 1981, O'Connor's legal beginnings probably did not suggest to her that she would one day hold a seat on the nation's highest bench. After a distinguished legal preparation at Stanford University (LL.B., 1952), service as a deputy county attorney in California, and work as a civilian lawyer for the Quartermaster Corps while her husband was on military duty in Europe, O'Connor was unable to find work with an Arizona law firm because of her gender. Rather than retreat, she established her own successful law practice -- and in 1965 was named assistant attorney general for the State of Arizona. She was named to fill a vacancy in the Arizona State Senate in 1969, and was subsequently re-elected to two, two-year terms, serving as Senate Majority Leader in her last term. In 1975 she was elected to the Maricopa County Superior Court, and then to the Arizona Court of Appeals in 1979. Throughout her service on the U.S. Supreme Court, O'Connor has proven to be a thoughtful jurist. She has, forever, shattered the idea that women were not qualified to serve on the nation's highest court -- and by her role model, further opened the door for women at all levels of the legal profession.
Additional Sources:
Mavetty, Nancy. Justice Sandra Day O.Connor: Strategist on the Supreme Court. Lanham, London: Rowman & Littlefield, 1996.

Van Sicket, Robert W. Not a Particularly Different Voice: The Jurisprudence of Sandra Day O'Connor. New York: P. Lang, 1998.

With H. Alan Day Lazy B.: Growing up on the Cattle Ranch in the American Southwest.
Papers 1963-1988. Library of Congress, Manuscript Division.

Material relating to her nomination to the Supreme Court. White House Office of Records Management, Ronald Reagan Library. Simi Valley, California.