The Student News Publication of Warren Township High School

Scratch Paper

The Student News Publication of Warren Township High School

Scratch Paper

The Student News Publication of Warren Township High School

Scratch Paper

Remembering Sandra Day O’Connor

Remembering Sandra Day OConnor

On December 1, former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor passed away at the age of 93. But O’Connor was much more than just someone on the bench. She was the first woman to serve on the highest court in the United States, and she was a pioneer for women in law.

O’Connor grew up working on her family’s ranch in Arizona, but then left for college in California. She attended Stanford for both her undergraduate and law degrees. After school, O’Connor briefly practiced law in Germany until she returned back to Arizona. However, she faced a large problem back home; nobody wanted to hire a woman. As a result, both her and her husband opened their own law firm. In Arizona, O’Connor would be a state senator, becoming the first woman to become a majority party (Republican) leader in a state legislature. She would also be elected to serve on the Arizona Court of Appeals. 

Her work in politics and on the court gained her attention from President Ronald Reagan who nominated her for the Supreme Court in 1981. Despite being put onto the court by a Republican, O’Connor never labeled herself as an originalist, the Republican ideology pertaining to the interpretation of the Constitution. She also tended to be the middle ground of the court and most of the time she swayed the ruling. Her voice on the court was so influential that the period of time she served is often referred to as the “O’Connor Court” even though she was never Chief Justice. 

When it came to rulings, O’Connor never truly leaned right. Her votes upheld vital liberal rulings in Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, which protected a woman’s right to an abortion, and upheld affirmative action in a suit against the University of Michigan’s law school. Both rulings no longer stand. She then ruled in favor of Republican candidate George W. Bush in Bush vs. Gore, which won him the presidency. 

O’Connor then went on to retire from the court in 2006. Afterwards, she served as a board member for many groups and foundations including the Rockefeller Foundation, the American Bar Association, and the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, in addition to serving as the chancellor of the College of William and Mary. O’Connor also became an advocate for civics education, even founding the popular online program iCivics, which teaches middle and high schoolers about the foundations of government through online games. O’Connor continued to work until she announced a dementia diagnosis in 2018, complications from the disease would ultimately be her cause of death.

Sandra Day O’Connor’s glass shattering career will continue to serve as inspiration for all Americans, especially young women pursuing law. Her legacy will continue to pave the way for future generations of Supreme Court justices and inspire the four women currently sitting on the bench. She was once labeled the most powerful woman in America, but she will always be labeled as one of the most influential.

About the Contributor
Amanda Muscia, Staff Writer
Hey! My name is Amanda and I am an upperclassman at Warren. I love spending time outdoors and supporting my friends at their games. In my free time, I enjoy watching sports, reading, and going out with my friends. Currently, I am a member of Students of Service as well as Scratch Paper. In school, my favorite subject is government, and I cannot wait to study it in college.