Sandra Day OConnor is a retired associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, serving from her appointment in 1981 by Ronald Reagan until her retirement in 2006. She was the first woman to serve as a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Prior to OConnors tenures on the Court, she was an elected official, on July 1,2005, she announced her intention to retire effective upon the confirmation of a successor. Samuel Alito was nominated to take her seat in October 2005, considered a federalist and a moderate Republican, OConnor tended to approach each case narrowly without arguing for sweeping precedents. She most frequently sided with the conservative bloc, although in the latter years of her tenure. OConnor was Chancellor of The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia and she also served on the Board of Trustees for Colonial Williamsburg. Several publications have named OConnor among the most powerful women in the world, on August 12,2009, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor of the United States, by President Barack Obama. She was born in El Paso, Texas, the daughter of Harry Alfred Day, a rancher and her sister was Ann Day, who served in the Arizona Legislature. She grew up on a ranch near Duncan, Arizona where she had to change automobile flat tires herself in dangerous environments. She later wrote a book with her brother, H. Alan Day, Lazy B, Growing up on a Cattle Ranch in the American West, about her childhood experiences on the ranch. For most of her schooling, OConnor lived in El Paso with her maternal grandmother, and attended school at the Radford School for Girls. She graduated sixth in her class at Austin High School in El Paso in 1946 and she attended Stanford University, where she received her B. A. in economics in 1950. She continued at the Stanford Law School for her LL. B and she has stated that she graduated third in her law school class, although Stanfords official position is that the law school did not rank students in 1952. On December 20,1952, six months after graduating law school. Her husband suffered from Alzheimers disease for twenty years until his death in 2009. After graduation from law school, at least forty law firms refused to interview her for a position as an attorney because she was a woman. She eventually found employment as a deputy county attorney in San Mateo, California, after she offered to work for no salary and without an office, sharing space with a secretary. When her husband was drafted, she decided to pick up and they remained there for three years before returning to the states, where they settled in Maricopa County, Ariz. to begin their family
Image: Sandra Day O'Connor
Supreme Court Justice-nominee Sandra Day O'Connor talks with President Ronald Reagan outside the White House, July 15, 1981.