Sandra Day O'Connor

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Sandra Day O'Connor
Sandra Day O'Connor.jpg
Court Information:
Supreme Court of the United States
Title:   Former justice
Appointed by:   Ronald Reagan
Approval vote:   99-0
Active:   9/25/1981-1/31/2006
Senior:   1/31/2006-Present
Preceded by:   Potter Stewart
Succeeded by:   Samuel Alito
Personal History
Born:   March 26, 1930
Hometown:   Texas
Undergraduate:   Stanford, 1950
Law School:   Stanford Law, 1952

Sandra Day O'Connor was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States and the first woman to serve on the high court. She was nominated by President Ronald Reagan in August 1981 and served until January 31, 2006. O'Connor was a crucial swing vote on the Court for many years because of her case-by-case approach to jurisprudence and her relatively moderate political views.[1]

On July 1, 2005, O'Connor announced her intention to retire effective upon the confirmation of a successor. President George W. Bush nominated Justice Samuel Alito to take her seat in October 2005. O'Connor left the Court upon Alito's confirmation by the Senate on January 31, 2006.[2]

O'Connor was one of five justices nominated to the Supreme Court by President Reagan, though only four were confirmed. She served during The Burger Court, The Rehnquist Court and The Roberts Court.[3]


O'Connor received her undergraduate degree from Stanford University in 1950 and her LL.B. from Stanford Law School in 1952.[1]


Federal judicial career

Supreme Court

O'Connor was nominated by President Ronald Reagan on August 19, 1981, to succeed Justice Potter Stewart. O'Connor was confirmed on September 21, 1981 and received commission the next day. She assumed senior status on January 31, 2006.[1]

Notable cases

Author: Sandra Day O'Connor

Vote Count: 5-4

Majority Justices: Rehnquist, Scalia, Kennedy

Concurring Justices: Thomas

Dissenting Justices: Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg, Breyer

Rights of zoning board stands (1997)

When the Archbishop of San Antonio was denied a permit to expand his Church, he sued the zoning board based on 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The City of Boerne zoning board argued that his church was in an historical area, which had ordinances in place forbidding new construction. On June 25, 1997, the Court ruled in favor of the zoning board, saying that the RFRA stated that the state could not "substantially burden" the free exercise of religion unless it was an impediment in an important government interest. In that case, the least amount of restriction was necessary. However, the RFRA was to be enforced by each state and the court could not determine how it was enforced. Because Boerne's regulation did not show preference for one religion over another, the enforcement of the zoning regulation was constitutional.[4]

See also

External links

  • Our Courts, an O'Connor project to teach children about civics.


Political offices
Preceded by:
Potter Stewart
Supreme Court
Succeeded by:
Samuel Alito