Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court, is being laid to rest in the Great Hall of the Supreme Court in Washington D.C. today. A viewing and private ceremony for family and invited guests will take place tomorrow.
Her story, that of a young woman growing up in Arizona in the 1930s, is an inspiring one. The daughter of rancher Harry Day, Sandra was raised to believe that she was as capable as any man, despite the obstacles she had to face. In 1952, after an arduous educational journey, she became the first woman to graduate from Stanford Law School.
Soon after, Sandra began her career as an attorney for a Phoenix law firm, representing both sides in matters of pre-divorce and the working class. She was active in Arizona politics and went on to become a state senator in 1969. A few years later, she was appointed as the first female Justice of the Supreme Court in 1981.
Justice O’Connor enjoyed a decorated career on the highest court in the land, playing an integral role as a swing vote on several cases throughout her 25-year tenure. She helped create legal precedents and blurred the lines between civil rights and personal interests.
When she announced her retirement in 2005, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor — who was often referred to by former colleagues and members of the press as “the iron lady” — did so with a sentiment of sadness, but also with a hope for the future. She urged her young clerks to “commit themselves to the rule of law” out of a desire to enhance gender and racial equality in the U.S. judicial system.
As a mark of respect for her legal influence and personal achievements, Justice O’Connor is being laid to rest in the Great Hall of the Supreme Court in Washington D.C. today. There, she will join the ranks of those who have inspired generations of legal minds and citizens alike: Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Chief Justice John Marshall, and Thurgood Marshall.
Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s legacy will live on for years to come, as a reminder of her ability to overcome societal obstacles and her impressive break of the glass ceiling established for women in the legal profession.