She was a pivotal figure during her 24 years on the court.
Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman Supreme Court justice, died Friday morning in Phoenix, Arizona. She was 93.
It was announced in October 2018 that she had been diagnosed with dementia. In a letter, she wrote: “As this condition has progressed, I am no longer able to participate in public life.”
Throughout her 24-year term on the bench, O’Connor voted on some of the most contentious issues the court has faced, including affirmative action and abortion. One of her most influential roles was in the 5-4 vote in Bush v. Gore, as she joined justices Anthony Kennedy, William Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas in a decision that led to George W. Bush’s 2000 election win.
In 2009, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her role in transforming the American judiciary, paving the way for women to join what had been a men’s only club. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Amy Coney Barrett and Ketanji Brown Jackson have also joined the nation’s highest court since she was appointed in 1981.
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