Groundbreaking Supreme Court Justice Dies At 93

Steve Petteway

Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was the very first woman to ever serve on the highest court in the United States. President Ronald Reagan appointed her to the role back in 1981, and she remained a justice on the court until 2006 when she stepped down to help her husband, who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Over a decade later, in 2018, O’Connor revealed publicly that she too had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Five years later, we have learned the sad news that O’Connor has died due to “complications related to advanced dementia.” She was 93 years old. O’Connor died in the morning on Friday, December 1, 2023.

When President Reagan appointed O’Connor to the Supreme Court, he described her as “a person for all seasons, possessing those unique qualities of temperament, fairness, intellectual capacity, and devotion to the public good which have characterized the 101 brethren who have preceded her.”

Back in 2015, the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called O’Conner “a true cowgirl,” and she was. O’Connor grew up on Lazy B ranch in Arizona where she branded cattle and drove tractors.

O’Connor studied at Stanford University and later attended Stanford Law School. She later married a classmate named John O’Connor. After graduating, she was unable to find a job at a law firm because she was a woman, so she and her husband started their own law firm. Before becoming a Supreme Court Justice, she was an Arizona state senator, a judge of the Maricopa County Superior Court, and then a judge of the Arizona Court of Appeals.

When O’Connor announced that she had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, she wrote in a letter explaining, “While the final chapter of my life with dementia may be trying, nothing has diminished my gratitude and deep appreciation for the countless blessings of my life.”

Watch the video below for more details about O’Connor’s life and legacy.