Former Supreme Courtroom Justice Sandra Day O’Connor testifies throughout the Senate Judiciary Committee listening to on “Making certain Judicial Independence By Civics Training” on Wednesday, July 25, 2012.
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O’Connor was 93 years outdated.
She died in Phoenix, Arizona, on Friday “of issues associated to superior dementia, in all probability Alzheimer’s, and a respiratory sickness,” the Supreme Courtroom stated in an announcement.
O’Connor was appointed to the court docket in 1981 by President Ronald Reagan and served almost a quarter-century, retiring in 2006.
She was changed by Justice Samuel Alito, who in 2022 wrote the bulk opinion overturning a federal proper to abortion that had been protected for many years by the circumstances Roe v. Wade and Deliberate Parenthood v. Casey.
O’Connor had co-authored the bulk opinion within the latter case, which Alito blasted for having “enflamed debate and deepened division” in the US.
She stepped again from public life in late 2018, after having issues along with her short-term reminiscence, her household stated on the time.
Newly appointed Supreme Courtroom Justice Sandra Day O’Connor stands in entrance of the US Supreme Courtroom Constructing following her being sworn in, September 25, 1981, in Washington, DC.
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Chief Justice John Roberts, in an announcement launched by the court docket, stated, “A daughter of the American Southwest, Sandra Day O’Connor blazed an historic path as our Nation’s first feminine Justice. She met that problem with undaunted dedication, indeniable means, and interesting candor.”
“We on the Supreme Courtroom mourn the lack of a beloved colleague, a fiercely impartial defender of the rule of legislation, and an eloquent advocate for civics training,” Roberts stated. “And we rejoice her enduring legacy as a real public servant and patriot.”
Iraq Examine Group member and former Supreme Courtroom Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in her places of work at the US Supreme Courtroom on January 23, 2007 in Washington, D.C.
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Georgetown College Legislation Faculty Professor Julie O’Sullivan, who clerked for O’Connor within the mid-Nineteen Eighties, stated she was a “sensible” justice who got here on to the court docket as a libertarian, however “who advanced fairly a bit” through the years by way of authorized philosophy.
O’Sullivan additionally stated that O’Connor was “a really brave lady to take” on the position of the primary feminine justice.
“She was all the time very acutely aware that everyone was watching,” stated O’Sullivan, noting that O’Connor was recognized to say that “she did not thoughts being the primary, however she did not wish to be the final.”
O’Connor insisted that the 9 justices “all have lunch collectively” often, made lunch for her clerks after they labored on Saturdays, and strongly believed in getting alongside along with her colleagues, no matter their variations of opinion, O’Sullivan stated.
And “she knew easy methods to get to 5,” O’Sullivan famous, referring to the minimal variety of justices wanted for a majority ruling typically. “She was very strategic.”
Throughout her tenure, O’Connor was joined on the nine-member Supreme Courtroom by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was appointed by President Invoice Clinton in 1993. Earlier than O’Connor died, Ginsburg was the latest justice to have died, in September 2020.
4 different girls have been appointed to the court docket since Ginsburg was, all of whom are at the moment serving: Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Amy Coney Barrett and Ketanji Brown Jackson.
O’Connor was serving as a decide on the Arizona Courtroom of Appeals when Reagan, a Republican, tapped her to change into the primary feminine on the Supreme Courtroom in its then 191-year historical past.
The El Paso, Texas, native beforehand served as assistant legal professional basic of Arizona, as a member of the Arizona state Senate, the place she was majority chief at one level, and as a decide of the Maricopa County Superior Courtroom.
O’Connor’s husband, John, died in 2009, three years after she retired to look after him when he was affected by Alzheimer’s.
O’Sullivan stated that through the years on the court docket and afterward, O’Connor “regarded out” for her former clerks, a few of whom she arrange with their future spouses.
“And she or he had these t-shirts that had ‘grand clerks’ on them,” stated O’Sullivan, noting with fun that her personal son refused to put on that present from the justice when he was a baby.
O’Connor is survived by three sons, six grandchildren and her brother.
The Supreme Courtroom’s press workplace stated funeral preparations for O’Connor will likely be launched when accessible.
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