The Legacy Of Sandra Day O'Connor

By, 19 January, 2018

Born on March 26, 1930 in El Paso Texas, Sandra Day was the eldest of three children. Up to the age of five she lived on 155,000 acres of land called the Lazy B Ranch, in southeastern Arizona. When she was ready for school, she was sent to live with her grandparents in El Paso. There she went to a private school for girls, Radford School; then she attended Austin High School, from which she graduated at a tender age of sixteen. O'Connor majored in economics at Stanford University; she earned a bachelor's degree in magna cum laude in 1950. Moving on to Stanford Law School, in 1952 she received a bachelor's of law degree. She was third in a class of one hundred two. She married John O'Connor, while working at the Stanford Law Review. In 1957 she gave birth to the first of three boys.


In 1959 she opened her own law firm in Phoenix. She was engaged in many activities, she became chairperson of the Republican Party from 1962 to 1965. From 1965 to 1969 she worked full time as the assistant attorney general for Arizona. Appointed a vacant seat in the state senate, the following year she campaigned on the Republican ticket for the same seat and won. O'Connor was less socially conservative than her Republican colleagues; she gained their respect due to her meticulous attention to detail. In 1972 she was elected majority leader of the state senate, becoming the first women to hold office in the country. After her second full term she decided to move to the judiciary branch. In 1974 she won a seat in Maricopa County Superior Court. Five years later she was appointed to the Arizona Court of Appeals. President Ronald Regan nominated her in 1981 for a seat in the Supreme Court. O'Connor was the first women to serve on the court.


O'Connor earned a reputation for voting on a case by case basis. This approach freed her to decide each case by there merits, which made her vote unpredictable. She was the swing vote, a controversial issue. A phrase often heard was "the O'Connor Court". One of her best deciding votes was in 2000, Bush v. Gore; people who live in Florida know all about this one.


O'Connor was thought likely to be successor to Rehnquist as chief justice. But, on July 1, 2005, she announced her retirement from the court. This would take effect as soon as her successor was confirmed.


Sandra Day O'Connor is an inspiration to many, including myself, which is the main reason why I decided to write this essay. If you decide to do more research on Sandra Day O’Connor, plenty of articles can be found online, as well as your local libraries.