1981 September 25

A Woman on the Supreme Court: Sandra Day O’Connor


Appointed by President Ronald Reagan, Sandra Day O’Connor was sworn in on this day as the first female Justice on the Supreme Court. She eventually became one of the most influential Justices during her tenure, successfully forging a centrist coalition with Justices David Souter and Anthony Kennedy and the liberal members of the Court. The coalition was particularly important, for example, in preserving Roe v. Wade — in the Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision on June 29, 1992.

After O’Connor retired and was replaced by the very conservative Samuel Alito in 2006, the Court voted 5–4 against the civil liberties position in a number of important cases.

Read: Joan Biskupic, Sandra Day O’Connor: How the First Woman on the Supreme Court Became its Most Influential Justice (2006)

Don’t miss: Linda Hirshman, Sisters in Law: How Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World (2015)

View a 2009 Sandra Day O’Connor Lecture: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UoHM1aoAp4U\

Read: Sandra Day O’Connor, The Majesty of the Law: Reflections of a Supreme Court Justice (2003)

Learn more about Sandra Day O’Connor: http://www.supremecourt.gov/visiting/SandraDayOConnor.aspx

See and hear Justice O’Connor: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jaZ3U3gK5s

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