Women’s History Month: First Female Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor

Women’s History Month: First Female Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor

By Julie A. Vaccarelli, Esq.

Most Americans have heard the name Sandra Day O’Connor, but did you know upon graduating from Stanford Law School in 1952, there were so few opportunities for female attorneys that she worked with no pay and without an office for the county attorney of San Mateo, California?  She turned that opportunity into a paid position as deputy county attorney of the same county and her career excelled from there.

In 1981, President Ronald Reagan nominated Day O’Connor as the first female candidate to the Supreme Court of the United States.  Despite opposition in the Senate, Day O’Connor was confirmed and served as the first female Justice from 1981 until her retirement in 2006, paving the way for Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and most recently Amy Coney Barrett.  Day O’Connor’s most notable contribution was the proposal of the endorsement test under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

Day O’Connor had three children with her husband John, and spent five years raising her children before returning to the work force.

There is no doubt that Sandra Day O’Connor was a trailblazer and overcame obstacles at every point in her career opening the door for all female attorneys that came after her.