Women’s Hall of Fame

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor of Arizona was the first woman to be appointed to the United States Supreme Court in 1981 and went on to serve as an Associate Justice for 25 years until her retirement in 2006. After graduating from Stanford Law School in 1952, Justice O’Connor had difficulty finding a law firm willing to hire a woman. She convinced the San Mateo County Attorney to hire her — even going so far as to initially volunteer, and worked as a deputy county attorney for a year. Following that, she served as a civilian attorney for the Quartermaster’s Corps in Germany, where her husband was stationed (1954-57) and went into private practice upon her return home to Arizona (1958-60). Justice O’Connor was Arizona’s Assistant Attorney General for four years (1965-69) and was elected to the Arizona State Senate following an appointment to fill a vacant State Senate seat. She was elected as a Maricopa County Superior Court Judge in 1974 and was appointed to the Arizona State Court of Appeals in 1979 where she served until her appointment to the Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan, two years later. Following her retirement, Justice O’Connor has continued her judicial service by hearing cases in the U.S. Court of Appeals. Justice O’Connor was awarded the highest civilian honor in the United States, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, by President Barak Obama in recognition for her lifetime accomplishments in 2009. Born in 1930 in El Paso, Texas, Justice O’Connor grew up on her family’s Arizona ranch. She married John Jay O’Connor III in 1952 and has three sons – Scott, Brian and Jay.
*This biography and photo of the honoree was published in .

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