Sandra Day O'Connor, first woman on Supreme Court, dies at 93

A statement from the Supreme Court says O'Connor was suffering from "advanced dementia, probably Alzheimer's, and a respiratory illness."
Posted at 10:16 AM, Dec 01, 2023

Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, died Friday at her home in Phoenix. She was 93 years old.

A statement from the Supreme Court said O'Connor was suffering from "advanced dementia, probably Alzheimer’s, and a respiratory illness."

O'Connor was appointed to the bench in 1981 by President Ronald Reagan. She served for nearly three decades, retiring in 2006. 

Chief Justice John Roberts mourned her death on Friday. 

"We at the Supreme Court mourn the loss of a beloved colleague, a fiercely independent defender of the rule of law, and an eloquent advocate for civics education. And we celebrate her enduring legacy as a true public servant and patriot," Roberts said in a statement. 

O'Connor was born in El Paso, Texas, in 1930. She would go on to earn a law degree from Stanford University. 

Before joining the Supreme Court, she had a distinguished political and law career. She served as an Arizona state senator for two full terms beginning in 1969. 

O'Connor was elected as judge of the Maricopa County Superior Court in the 1970s before being appointed to the Arizona Court of Appeals in 1979. Two years later, she would be appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

For more than 25 years, O'Connor ruled on numerous topics, but most notably abortion. 

Despite being appointed by a Republican, O’Connor refused to join other conservative justices who were in favor of overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which affirmed a woman's right to have an abortion. The decision would eventually be overturned in 2022, 16 years after O'Connor retired. 

In retirement, O'Connor founded iCivics, a civics education platform. 

She had three sons and six grandchildren. Her husband, John O’Connor, died in 2009. 

Funeral arrangements for the former Supreme Court justice will reportedly be announced at a later date.