America’s First female Supreme Court justice, Sandra Day O’Connor, dies at 93

Sandra Day O’Connor, who made history as the first US female justice on the Supreme Court, died December 1, at the age of  93.
O’Connor passed away in her home state of Arizona due to complications from advanced dementia and a respiratory illness.
In 2018, O’Connor announced that she had been diagnosed with “the beginning stages of dementia, probably Alzheimer’s disease.”
Her husband, John O’Connor, died of complications of Alzheimer’s in 2009.
O’Connor retired from the high bench in 2006, 25 years after her nomination by President Ronald Reagan.


She was best known for her co-authorship of the majority opinion in 1992’s Planned Parenthood v. Casey, in which the justices ruled that state laws restricting abortion should not impose an “undue burden” on women seeking the procedure.
“Some of us as individuals find abortion offensive to our most basic principles of morality, but that can’t control our decision,” O’Connor said from the bench, as she read a summary of the decision. “Our obligation is to define the liberty of all, not to mandate our own moral code.”
That ruling was overturned in June 2022 by the court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which returned responsibility for deciding restrictions on the procedure to the states.
O’Connor also signed on to the majority opinion in Bush v. Gore, which put an end to the weeks-long drama of the 2000 presidential election by nixing then-Vice President Al Gore’s demands for a recount in Florida.
She also authored the decision in 2003’s Grutter v. Bollinger, which held that affirmative action programs based on race did not violate the 14th Amendment — a decision that was also overturned by the high court this past June.
After her ascenscion to the Supreme Court, O’Connor remained the only woman on the bench until she was joined in 1993 by Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Currently, the Supreme Court boasts four women: Amy Coney Barrett, Ketanji Brown Jackson, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor.

[NewYork Times]

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