El Paso native makes history as first woman to serve on U.S. Supreme Court

Do you know of Sandra Day O'Connor?


Today marks the 39th anniversary of the date that Sandra Day O’Connor was commissioned to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States; September 22, 1981. She was appointed by President Ronald Reagan and sworn in on September 25, 1981, filling the ninth seat as the first woman justice to serve.

Sandra Day O’Connor was born in El Paso, Texas in 1930. Though she left the city to reside in Arizona on her parents’ ranch, she was sent back to El Paso, at a young age, to live with her grandmother and take advantage of better educational opportunities. O’Connor went on to gain many academic accolades and accompishments throughout her schooling, to include graduating magna cum laude at Stanford University and presiding as Editor-in-Chief of the Stanford Law Review, at Stanford Law School.

O’Connor was also known for:

  • Becoming the first female majority leader in any state senate.
  • Being a civilian attorney for the Quartermaster Masker Center of Frankfurt Germany, in 1954.
  • Drafting the majority opinion in Mississippi University for Women v. Hogan.
  • The swing vote in upholding the Roe v. Wade decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
  • Serving in all three branches of Arizona state government.
  • Founding iCivics , which she “considers her most important work and greatest legacy”.
  • …and a myriad of other awards and honors.

The practice of democracy is not passed down through the gene pool. It must be taught and learned anew by each generation of citizens.”

— Sandra Day O’Connor, Former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States

After retirement, O’Connor remained active in her works. In 2018, her family allegedly released a letter that shared why she was “no longer able to participate in public life” due to dementia. See here: https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/5017508/Letter-from-former-justice-Sandra-Day-O-Connor.pdf

FUN FACT: Did you know that Justices of the Supreme Court are nominated and appointed?


Sandra Day O’Connor. (n.d.). Oyez. Retrieved September 22, 2020, from https://www.oyez.org/justices/sandra_day_oconnor

Our Founder. (n.d.). iCivics. Retrieved September 22, 2020, from https://www.icivics.org/our-founder