Sandra Day O'Connor
With the recent appointments of Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor
to the U.S. Supreme Court, it shows that 30 years after Sandra
Day O'Connor's appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court it is
now possible for young girls to see examples of distinguished
women who work not only as teachers, nurses or secretaries
but also in the higher positions of U.S. government. This
is particularly true for Hispanic-American women with the
appointment of Sonia Sotomayor to the bench.
Sandra Day O'Connor
Prior to Sandra Day O'Connor's appointment to the U.S. Supreme
Court, we were in the middle of the third wave of feminism
which started around the mid-1960s, and more women entered
traditionally male-dominated fields such as business, law,
academia, print and broadcast journalism, and even politics.
These fields were usually a good-ole-boys clubs that didn't
favor women's entry into them for decades.
But even as more women entered the workforce and as abortion
became legal in the United States in 1973, it didn't mean
that the struggle for women's rights ended. But Sandra Day
O'Connor's appointment showed the nation that we were ready
to allow women the opportunity to serve in highest levels
Sandra Day O' Connor was born on March 26, 1930 in El Paso,
Texas. Her father was Harry Alfred Day and mother was Ada
Mae Day. She and her family grew up on a ranch and while her
parents taught her the importance of hard work, they also
wanted her to have a good education so that she'd succeed
in life as an adult.
In 1946, Sandra Day O' Connor graduated from Austin High
School and in 1950 she received her bachelor's degree in economics
from Stanford University. Sandra went on to attend Stanford
Law School and she served on the Stanford Law Review along
with future Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist.
In 1952, she married John Jay O'Connor and they had three
children including Scott, Brian and Jay.
In Sandra Day O'Connor's early career, many law firms would
not hire her because she was a woman. She persisted and the
hard work paid off when she became the Deputy County Attorney
of San Mateo County from 1952-1953. From 1965-1969 she served
as Assistant Attorney General of Arizona and in 1969 she was
appointed to the Arizona State Senate and was reelected to
this position as a Republican to two two-year terms.
In 1975, she was elected judge of the Maricopa County Superior
Court. In 1979 Sandra was appointed to the Arizona Court of
Appeals where she remained until her appointment to the U.S.
Supreme Court in 1981 by Ronald Reagan.
One of Sandra Day O'Connor's key decisions while on the Supreme
Court was the 1982 Mississippi University for Women vs. Hogan
case, where she decided that it was unconstitutional for a
state nursing school to refuse to admit male students. In
the U.S. vs. Eichman case in 1990, she concluded that the
burning of the American flag is protected by the First Amendment.
There was also the 1985 Wallace vs. Jaffree case, in which
she decided that moments of silence in public schools are
constitutional. In the famous Planned Parenthood vs. Casey
case in 1992, she challenged the 1982 Abortion Control Act
in Pennsylvania, which required married women to inform their
husbands before getting an abortion and minors to inform their
parents before getting an abortion.
She felt that these aspects of the law violated women's privacy
rights regarding an abortion. Finally, there was the incident
in 2000 when she and her fellow Supreme Court justices stopped
the recount of votes in Florida during the presidential campaign
of Al Gore and George W. Bush. This resulted in George W.
Bush's election to the presidency in 2000. Sandra Day O'Connor
retired from the U.S. Supreme Court in 2006 breaking the glass
ceiling and being reknowned as one of the most famous women
in recent U. S. political history.
There is a secret
you don't know
Besides the factual Sandra Day O' Connor biography presented
above there is one small secret about the former Supreme Court
Justice that you may not have heard about. This secret is
that Sandra Day O' Connor once had a vivid dream yelling at
actor Jack Nicholson, shaking him and telling him, "You
can't handle the truth!"