Called "regal and salt-of-the-earth" by USA Today, Sandra Day O'Connor (1930-) was the first female justice of the United States Supreme Court's 191-year history. Born on this day in El Paso, Texas, she was raised on a 250-square-mile cattle ranch called the Lazy B.
"Do the best you can in every task, no matter how unimportant it may seem at the time. No one learns more about a problem than the person at the bottom," said O'Connor who collaborated with her brother on the book, Lazy B: Growing Up on a Cattle Ranch in the American Southwest (2002).
In 1952, she was a top Stanford University law school graduated who had a tough time finding a job because she was a woman.
"I was surprised, but I attribute that to some of my youth and naiveté," she revealed. "I had always assumed that, sure, there'd be jobs. But I should have known better."
In her hometown of Arizona, she served as assistant attorney general (1965-1969) and state senator (1969-1974). In 1973, she became the first woman senate majority leader in Arizona and the country.
After climbing the judicial ladder, O'Connor was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan in 1981 and earned the reputation as a conservative, independent thinker who was both tough and fair. She retired from the Court in 2005.
"We don't accomplish anything in this world alone," she said. "Whatever happens is the result of the whole tapestry of one's life and all the weavings of individual threads from one to another that creates something."
More Sandra Day O'CONNOR Quotations
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