In Dicta

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

"Sandra Day O'Connor: The reluctant justice"?


"When Justice Sandra Day O’Connor announced her retirement Friday, she cited her age, 75, and her desire to "spend time” with her husband and their three sons.

After 24 years on the bench, she'll finally have that time.

Tapped by President Reagan in 1981, O’Connor was 51 when she joined the court to replace the retired Potter Stewart.

O'Connor recalled how she was surprised by the enormity of the reaction to her appointment as the first woman on the court. She received more than 60,000 letters in her first year, more than any one member in the court’s history.

“I had no idea when I was appointed how much it would mean to many people around the country,” she once said. “It affected them in a very personal way. People saw it as a signal that there are virtually unlimited opportunities for women. It’s important to parents for their daughters, and to daughters for themselves.”

At times, the constant publicity was almost unbearable. “I had never expected or aspired to be a Supreme Court justice. My first year on the court made me long at times for obscurity,” she once said."



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