Retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor Dies at 93

Sandra Day O'Connor

Retired Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Sandra Day O’Connor died this morning in Phoenix, Arizona, of complications related to advanced dementia, probably Alzheimer’s, and a respiratory illness. She was 93 years old. Justice O’Connor was appointed to the Court by President Reagan in 1981 and retired in 2006, after serving more than 24 years on the Court. She was the first female member of the Court. She is survived by her three sons, Scott (Joanie) O’Connor, Brian (Shawn) O’Connor, and Jay (Heather) O’Connor, six grandchildren: Courtney, Adam, Keely, Weston, Dylan and Luke, and her beloved brother and co-author, Alan Day, Sr. Her husband, John O’Connor, preceded her in death in 2009.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., said of Justice O’Connor: “A daughter of the American Southwest, Sandra Day O’Connor blazed an historic trail as our Nation’s first female Justice. She met that challenge with undaunted determination, indisputable ability, and engaging candor. We at the Supreme Court mourn the loss of a beloved colleague, a fiercely independent defender of the rule of law, and an eloquent advocate for civics education. And we celebrate her enduring legacy as a true public servant and patriot.”

Justice O’Connor was born in El Paso, Texas, on March 26, 1930. She married John Jay O’Connor III in 1952. She received her B.A. and LL.B. from Stanford University. She served as Deputy County Attorney of San Mateo County, California, from 1952 to 1953 and as a civilian attorney for Quartermaster Market Center, Frankfurt, Germany, from 1954 to 1957. From 1958 to 1960, she practiced law in Maryvale, Arizona, before serving as Assistant Attorney General of Arizona from 1965 to 1969. She was appointed to the Arizona State Senate in 1969 and was subsequently reelected to two two-year terms, during which she was selected as Majority Leader. In 1975 she was elected Judge of the Maricopa County Superior Court and served until 1979, when she was appointed to the Arizona Court of Appeals.

Justice O’Connor wrote five books: Lazy B: Growing Up on a Cattle Ranch in the American Southwest (2002); The Majesty of the Law: Reflections of a Supreme Court Justice (2002); Chico (2005); Finding Susie (2009); and Out of Order: Stories from the History of the Supreme Court (2013).

Following her tenure on the Supreme Court, she founded and led iCivics, the Nation’s leading civics education platform. As President Reagan said when first introducing her to the American people, she was a woman for all seasons.

Plans regarding Justice O’Connor’s funeral will be released when available.

Photo caption: Attorney at Law Magazine had the honor to interview Justice O’Connor in February 2010. This photo graced the cover of that month’s issue. 

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