Revised: October 21, 2014

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“Society as a whole benefits immeasurably from a climate in which all persons, regardless of race or gender, may have the opportunity to earn respect, responsibility, advancement and remuneration based on ability.”
- SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR
Sandra Day O’Connor
Associate Justice United States Supreme Court (Retired), Born: March 26, 1930

Sandra Day was born on March 26, 1930 in El Paso, Texas. She spent her early childhood on the Day family's 198,000 acre cattle ranch. When she reached school age her parents sent her back to El Paso to live with her grandmother.

Sandra Day attended Stanford University, where she received her B.A. in economics in 1950. She continued at Stanford for her law degree, graduating in two years rather than the customary three, and graduating third out of a class of 102. It was during her work as editor on the Stanford Law Review that she met John Jay O’Connor III, also attending law school at Stanford. Soon after graduation they were married. The O’Connors settled in Phoenix, Arizona.

O’Connor served as an Arizona assistant attorney general from 1965 to 1969, when she was appointed to a vacancy in the Arizona Senate. In 1974, she ran successfully for trial judge, a position she held until she was appointed to the Arizona Court of Appeals in 1979. Eighteen months later, on July 7, 1981 President Ronald Reagan nominated her to the Supreme Court. In September 1981, Sandra Day O’Connor became the Court’s 102nd justice and its first female member.

During her time on the court Justice O’Connor was regarded as a consummate compromiser. She also made it clear that the high court's role in American society was to interpret the law, not to legislate. Her votes were generally conservative, but she frequently surprised observers with her political independence. A quietly determined woman who has blazed new trails for her sex, Sandra Day O’Connor has become a role model for Americans of both sexes and all ages. On July 1, 2005 Associate Justice O’Connor announced her retirement from the Supreme Court after 24 years of service on the bench.

O’Connor currently serves as Chancellor of the College of William and Mary, on the board of trustees of the Rockefeller Foundation, the executive board of the Central European and Eurasian Law Initiative, and the American Bar Association Museum of Law board of directors. Between March and December of 2006, Justice O’Connor served her country as a member of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group of the United States Institute of Peace.

If you are aware of books, movies, databases, web sites or other information sources about Sandra Day O’Connor or related subjects, or if you would like to comment, please contact us.

Resource Menu
Books By/About Sandra Day O’Connor

The Majesty of the Law The Majesty of the Law: Reflections of a Supreme Court Justice
by Sandra Day O’Connor

O’Connor gives a history of the U.S. judicial system, profiles Supreme Court titans such as Holmes, Taft and Thurgood Marshall, and reviews the struggle to gain voting rights for women.

Purchase this hardcover edition of The Majesty of the Law

Lazy B Lazy B: Growing Up on a Cattle Ranch in the American Southwest
by Sandra Day O’Connor, H. Alan Day

A joint memoir by O’Connor and her brother Alan recounting their youth on their family ranch, the “Lazy B” in eastern Arizona.

Purchase this hardcover edition of Lazy B

Chico Chico
by Sandra Day O’Connor

A story based on memories of her childhood on her family’s ranch, O’Connor revisits six-year-old Sandra, who helped with the chores, loved to read, and rode her own small horse, Chico. Reading level grades 1 - 3.

Purchase this hardcover edition of Chico

Sandra Day O'Connor Sandra Day O’Connor: How the First Woman on the Supreme Court Became Its Most Influential Justice
by Joan Biskupic

Drawing on information gleaned from once-private papers, hundreds of interviews, and the insight gained from nearly two decades of covering the Supreme Court, author Joan Biskupic offers readers a fascinating portrait of a complex and multifaceted woman—lawyer, politician, legislator, and justice, as well as wife, mother, A-list society hostess, and competitive athlete.

Purchase this hardcover edition of Sandra Day O’Connor: How the First Woman on the Supreme Court Became Its Most Influential Justice

Meet My Grandmother Meet My Grandmother: She’s a Supreme Court Justice
by Lisa Tucker McElroy, Courtney O’Connor, Joel Benjamin

Nine-year-old Courtney O’Connor and tells the story of a day in the life of her grandmother.

Purchase this hardcover edition of Meet My Grandmother


DVDs About Sandra Day O’Connor

ABC News Nightline Profile: Sandra Day O'Connor ABC News Nightline Profile: Sandra Day O’Connor (2006)
ABC News takes a look at the legacy of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who in her 25 years on the US Supreme Court was the tie-breaker in over three-quarters of the court's 5-4 decisions.

Purchase this DVD edition of ABC News Nightline Profile: Sandra Day O’Connor

Madame Curie Charlie Rose with Justice Stephen Breyer & Justice Sandra Day O’Connor (2006)
An hour of conversation about the current United States Supreme Court and the issues of judiciary independence and activism.

Purchase this DVD edition of Charlie Rose with Justice Stephen Breyer & Justice Sandra Day O’Connor


Sandra Day O’Connor Online Videos

Wynton Marsalis and Sandra Day O'Connor "Democracy"

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor On A Meaningful Life

Sandra Day O'Connor on Activist Judges

Justice O'Connor Gives the Second Annual William French Smith Lecture


Related Websites

O’Connor Biography at Supreme Court Historical Society

O’Connor Biographical Data at Cornell Law Library

The Opinions of Justice O’Connor
May 1990-1998

Sandra Day O’Connor on the issues

The Supreme Court of the United States
The Official Website of the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court Historical Society



Sandra Day O'Connor


Other Jurists in the Lucidcafé Library


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