Sandra Day O’Connor

“I think the most important thing about my appointment is not that I will decide cases as a woman, but that I am a woman who will get to decide cases,” said Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman to serve as a SCOTUS justice. Born in El Paso, TX, she spent her early childhood on a ranch in Arizona, but went back to El Paso to live with her grandparents so she could have the best educational opportunities. She finished high school two years early, and headed to Stanford for college and then law school. After graduating third in her class from Stanford Law (CJ Rehnquist was #1), over 40 law firms declined to even interview her and the only paid job offer she got was as a legal secretary. Instead, she began volunteering without pay or an office for the San Mateo county attorney. Eventually, after proving herself, she was hired as a deputy county attorney. In 1981, President Reagan appointed her to SCOTUS and the Senate unanimously approved her appointment. Since retiring from the Court, Justice O’Connor has been an advocate for educating kids about civics and government. She founded iCivics (https://www.icivics.org/) an award-winning, interactive website that promotes civic knowledge and engagement.

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