Sandra Day O’Connor turns 89 today! The former Supreme Court Justice has a lot to celebrate this year, and here’s a few reasons why you should throw a little party for her, too.
SHE GRADUATED FROM STANFORD
She was one of four women in her class at Stanford’s law school, and said that she had no idea how hard it would be to hold a career as a female lawyer. Despite that, she still graduated third in her entire class!
SHE WAS THE FIRST FEMALE SUPREME COURT JUSTICE OF THE U.S.
When O’Connor was sworn in on September 25th, 1981, she was the first woman to ever hold a Supreme Court seat! Three other women have followed: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan.
SHE WAS KNOWN FOR HER ANALYTICAL APPROACH TO SUPREME COURT CASES
O’Connor was methodical and practical when it came to her decisions on cases, such as Mississippi University for Women v. Hogan in 1982 and Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992.
SHE DOESN’T LIKE BEING CALLED A “SWING VOTE”
O’Connor ended up casting the determining vote in many high-profile Supreme Court decisions, many of which touched on abortion, affirmative action, and other contentious topics. However, she wants it to be known that she doesn’t like the term “swing vote,” because she doesn’t think justices “swing” back and forth on issues — they make decisions based on legal principles.
SHE DEALT WITH HUGE INVASIONS OF PRIVACY AS THE ONLY WOMAN ON THE SUPREME COURT
O’Connor mentions that she was the subject of “intense scrutiny” because of her position on the court, saying that people went so far as to dig through her garbage and do whatever it took to get access to her private thoughts. She also said that this didn’t change until Ruth Bader Ginsburg (another amazing vina) joined the court in 1993 — and O’Connor was kind enough to show her the ropes.
SHE KNEW HOW TO HAVE FUN
It’s hard to be a justice, and O’Connor made sure she found some time to do her own thing. She liked to play golf and tennis, and she also used to spend time with her clerks by having picnics with them!
SHE’S STARTED HER OWN NONPROFIT
After O’Connor retired from the Supreme Court, she founded iCivics, which is an organization that is used to teach students about the government and encourage their participation in civic duties. She considers it to be her greatest legacy!
NO MATTER WHAT, SHE’S PAVED THE WAY FOR A MORE WOMAN-CENTRIC SUPREME COURT
Thanks to O’Connor, it’s no longer a first for women to be Supreme Court Justices. Her legacy will live on for generations, and hopefully inspire lots of young women to follow their dreams and become Justices. Here’s to many more to come!
Sandra Day O’Connor is all about empowerment, and so are we here at Hey! VINA!