Justice O'Connor to Speak at Renaming
Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor will be the honored guest at a celebration of the renaming of the Arizona State University College of Law at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 17, on the South Lawn of Armstrong Hall on the ASU campus. The event is free and open to the public.
The College was renamed the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law in April in honor of Justice O'Connor's career-long dedication to public service, her intellectual vigor and her sense of fair-mindedness. It is the first law school named in honor of a contemporary woman.
The ceremony will include remarks from Justice OConnor; ASU President Michael M. Crow; Patricia White, Dean of the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law; Ruth V. McGregor, Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court, who is an alumna of the College and was a clerk for Justice O'Connor; and Robert Bulla, president of the Arizona Board of Regents.
Sandra Day O'Connor served as the first female Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States (1981 to 2006), and she was cited by Forbes magazine (2004) as the fourth most powerful woman in the United States and the sixth most powerful in the world. Due to her case-by-case approach to jurisprudence and her relatively moderate political views, O'Connor was the crucial swing vote of the Court for many of her final years on the bench.
O'Connor was born on March 26, 1930, in El Paso, Texas, and spent her early childhood on the Day family cattle ranch near Duncan, Ariz. When she reached school age, she lived with her grandmother in El Paso.
She attended Stanford University, where she received a B.A. in economics in 1950. She continued at Stanford for her law degree, completing the program in two years rather than the customary three, and graduating third out of a class of 102. While in law school, she met John Jay O'Connor III, whom she married in 1952 and with whom she has three sons.
O'Connor served as an Arizona assistant attorney general from 1965 to 1969, when she was appointed to a vacancy in the Arizona Senate. In 1974, she successfully ran for trial judge, a position she held until she was appointed to the Arizona Court of Appeals in 1979.
On July 7, 1981 President Ronald Reagan nominated her to the Supreme Court. In September 1981, on a 99-0 confirmation vote, O'Connor became the Supreme Court's 102nd justice and its first female member. During her time on the court, O'Connor was regarded as a consummate compromiser. Her votes were generally conservative, but she frequently surprised observers with her political independence.
In her later years on the Supreme Court, O'Connor's voting record was pivotal. She joined four liberal judges on many 5-4 decisions including those of Grutter v. Bollinger (2003), which affirmed the right of state colleges and universities to use affirmative action in their admissions policies to increase educational opportunities and promote racial diversity on campus. In Rush Prudential HMO Inc., v. Moran (2002), her vote helped uphold state laws giving people the right to a second doctor's opinion if their HMOs tried to deny them treatment.
On July 1, 2005, Associate Justice O'Connor announced her retirement from the Supreme Court after 24 years of service on the bench.