Sandra Day O'Connor

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Sandra Day O'Connor
Perhaps no other jurist could have come to the Supreme Court under greater expectations. When President Ronald Reagan nominated Sandra Day O'Connor in 1981 to be the first woman to sit on the Supreme Court, he did soto keep a campaign promise. O'Connor's nomination was quick to draw criticism from both the political people left and right. Conservatives put down her lack of federal judicial experience and claimed that she didn't have any constitutional knowledge. They considered her a wasted nomination and suspected her position on abortion. Liberals, on the other hand, could not deny their satisfaction at seeing a woman on the High Court, but they were disappointed in O'Connor's apparent lack of strong support for feminist issues. In time, however, O'Connor has come to answer all these criticisms. O'Connor has emerged from the shadow of Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and the Court's conservative bloc with her own brand of pragmatic and centrist-oriented conservatism. Even those liberals who branded her a "traitor" in her early years for compromising on abortion rights, now appreciate her efforts to keep the "pro-choice" message of Roe v. Wade in 1973. O'Connor's success should come at no surprise. From her country childhood to her career climb through a profession dominated by men, O'Connor often resorted to practical solutions as she worked within the system. This made her more important in the Supreme Court.

Sandra Day O'Connor was born March 26, 1930, in El Paso, Texas. Her parents, Harry and Ada Mae, owned the Lazy-B-Cattle Ranch in southeastern Arizona, where O'Connor grew up. O'Connor experienced a difficult life on the ranch in her early years. The ranch itself did not receive electricity or running water until she was seven. Since their nearest neighbors lived 25 miles away, the family spent their days mostly in isolation. Her younger brother and sister were not born until she was eight years old, leaving her to spend many...
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