Sandra Day O'Connor

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Sandra Day O'Connor (born March 26, 1930) is an American jurist. She served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1981 until her retirement from the bench in 2005. The first woman to serve on the Supreme Court, she was a crucial swing vote on the Court for many years because of her case-by-case approach to jurisprudence and her relatively moderate political views.


  • I do not believe it is the function of the judiciary to step in and change the law because the times have changed. I do well understand the difference between legislating and judging. As a judge, it is not my function to develop public policy.
    • Washington Post (September 10, 1981).
  • [T]he proper role of hte judiciary is one of interpreting and applying the law, not making it.
    • Testimony at her confirmation hearing, reported in the New York Times (February 23, 1984).
  • It is difficult to discern a serious threat to religious liberty from a room of silent, thoughtful schoolchildren.
    • Upholding the constitutionality of a "moment of silent prayer" in schools in Wallce v. Jaffree, 472 U.S. 38 (1985) (concurring).


  • Slaying the dragon of delay is no sport for the short-winded.
  • We don't accomplish anything in this world alone ... and 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.
  • The power I exert on the court depends on the power of my arguments, not on my gender.

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