In 1981, President Jimmy Carter issued the first presidential proclamation declaring the week of March 8th as National Women’s History Week. Six years later, Congress voted to expand the event to the entire month of March. Every President since that time has declared the month of March Women’s History Month.
This year we honor Sandra Day O’Connor. Sandra Day O’Connor, now 87, was the first female Justice to serve on the United States Supreme Court. She was nominated in 1981 by President Ronald Reagan when she was fifty-one years old. She would serve for twenty-four years before retiring to take care of her husband whose health had begun to decline. In a letter to the public, in 2018 she announced that she had been diagnosed with early-stage dementia and would withdraw from public life.
Sandra Day O’Conner served on the United States Supreme Court from 1981-2006. A moderate conservative, she was known for her meticulously researched opinions. She completed high school early and was accepted into Stanford University at the age of sixteen. After finishing her B.A. at the age of twenty, she was accepted into Stanford Law School where she would complete her juris doctorate degree in just two short years. However, she was unable to find employment despite her academic achievements because she was a woman.
After a brief tenure as a Deputy District Attorney in San Mateo County, California, Sandra Day O’Connor relocated to Germany with her husband where she served as a civil attorney for the Army from 1954-1957.Upon her return to the United States, Justice O’Connor pursued private practice in Maryville, Arizona, becoming an assistant attorney general for the state from 1965–1969. In 1969 she was elected as a Republican to the Arizona Senate serving from 1969–1974, rising to the position of majority leader—the first woman in the United States to occupy such a position. She later was elected a Superior Court judge in Maricopa county, a post she held from 1975 to 1979, when she was appointed to the Arizona Court of Appeals in Phoenix. Described by Reagan as a “person for all seasons,” O’Connor was confirmed unanimously by the Senate and was sworn in as the first female justice on September 25, 1981.
Sandra Day O’Connor is the author of several books, including Lazy B (2002); co-written with her brother, H. Alan Day), a memoir focusing on her family’s ranch, and Out of Order: Stories from the History of the Supreme Court (2013), a collection of anecdotes charting the genesis and maturation of the Supreme Court. O’Connor also wrote the children’s books Chico (2005) and Finding Susie (2009), both of which were based on her childhood experiences, and she established a website, iCivics, dedicated to educating America’s youth on democracy, equipping and encouraging them to become involved in civics and government. In 2009 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Sandra Day O’Connor. Today is her 87th birthday and today we honor former Super Court Justice for her ability to honor the past, inform the present and inspire the future.