Friday, October 26, 2007

What a Difference A Day Makes

How about someone today who is still alive?
This is Sandra Day O' Connor.

She was raised on an Arizona Cattle Ranch, where, by the age of eight, she could drive, shoot, ride horses, and had a pet bobcat. Because, at that time, there was no where in Arizona close enough for her to get a good education, her parents sent her to Texas, to live with her Grandmother and go to school. She graduated at 16, despite taking a year off to go back to Arizona. (She'd been too homesick for the ranch, I don't blame her.)
After high school, she went to Stanford University, and got a degree in Economics. After a legal battle over the Ranch in Arizona, she decided to go to law school at Stanford. She finished law school in 2 years, and was third in her class of 102. She briefly dated a guy named Rhenquist there (name familiar? No? Will explain later). She also met her husband in law school.
Despite being third in her class, no law firm wanted to hire a woman. One of them offered her a job as a legal secretary, however. . .
So instead, she went into public service, and became the a Deputy County attorney of San Mateo county. Her husband graduated the next year from law school, and the Army snapped him up to be a JAG. So, she went to Germany with him for three years, where she practiced civilian law.
When they came home, they settled in Arizona, where, once again, no one wanted to employ her. She started a firm of her own, but began to have children. She had 3 boys in 6 years. During this time, she took 5 years off to be with her family, but continued to do volunteer work in her community.
After that 5 years, she became a Assistant State Attorney General in Arizona. However, one of the state senators left his seat, and the Arizona Governor appointed that seat to her. She subsequently was officially elected to that seat two more years, and during that time was the first woman in Arizona to become the majority leader of their state senate.
After doing that, she decided she would try her hand at being a judge. So she ran for that position in Maricopa County, Arizona, and won. (naturally). She eventually found her way to the Arizona court of Appeals.
In 1981, Ronald Reagan chose her for the supreme court. He'd made a campaign promise, you see, to nominate a woman into this esteemed group. (The first one!) She was confirmed unanimously. Of course, the Chief Justice was a guy named Rhenquist. (I told you he'd come back.).
She was immediately pegged a conservative judge, and much controversy surrounds her tenure, and some of her decisions. Despite her politics, you have to give the woman credit where credit is due, though. She was a member of the Supreme Court until 2006, she even was treated for, and survived Breast Cancer, during her time as a Justice.
She is known for taking her cases on an individual, case by case view, and a narrow view, at that. She's admitted she hated to be "painted into a corner." She surprised a lot of people during her time as a Justice. They say her stance is "difficult to define". Towards the end of her Supreme Court career, she was often the swing vote. Not a position I envy.
So, this "Day" did make a difference. She still does. Though retired, she is currently the Chancellor of William and Mary College, and teaches a law course (with a partner) at the Sandra Day O' Connor school of law in Arizona.


CamiKaos said...

it must be daunting to be taught by the person your school is named for. And amazing.

Lori said...

I love her. I've actually met her. She comes to our court for functions and teaches right down the road. Her sister (Ann) is at our office all the time bc she's on the Board of Supervisors.

mielikki said...

Lori- thats really cool. From what I have read about her, she seems like a fun and interesting person. I also think she has an incredible work ethic, probably learned from her years on the cattle ranch.

Mimi said...

Love her! I was miffed that she chose to step down under the current administration though.

However, that does not dim my admiration.

sybil law said...

How insane that it took until 1981 for a woman to be on the Supreme Court! I like her, too. She's always stuck out in my head, because she's just amazing.

Bubblewench said...

I like these historical women you have been bringing up! Great post.

julie said...

I love SDO'C! It just sucks she had to step down now. The court is not as great without her.