Presented by Lapham's Quarterly and the Institute for the Future of the Book

Sandra Day O’Connor was nominated by President Reagan as Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court on July 7, 1981, and took the oath of office on September 25. O’Connor previously served on the Arizona Court of Appeals (1979–81) and as judge of the Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix, Arizona (1975–79). She was appointed as Arizona state senator in 1969 and was subsequently elected to two two-year terms from 1969 to 1975. During her tenure, she was Arizona Senate Majority Leader and Chairman of the State, County, and Municipal Affairs Committee, and she served on the Legislative Council, on the Probate Code Commission, and on the Arizona Advisory Council on Intergovernmental Relations.

From 1965 to 1969, O’Connor was assistant attorney general in Arizona. She practiced law at a private firm in Maryvale, Arizona, from 1958 to 1960 and prior to that was civilian attorney for Quartermaster Market Center in Frankfurt, Germany (1954–57), and deputy county attorney in San Mateo County, California (1952–53)

She was previously Chairman of the Arizona Supreme Court Committee to Reorganize Lower Courts (1974–75), Vice Chairman of the Arizona Select Law Enforcement Review Commission (1979–80), and, in Maricopa County, Chairman of the Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service (1960–62), the Juvenile Detention Home Visiting Board (1963–64), and the Superior Court Judges’ Training and Education Committee (1977–79) and a member of the Board of Adjustments and Appeals (1963–64).

O’Connor currently serves as Chancellor of the College of William and Mary and on the Board of Trustees of the Rockefeller Foundation, the Executive Board of the Central European and Eurasian Law Initiative, the Advisory Board of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, and the Advisory Committee of the American Society of International Law, Judicial. She is an honorary member of the Advisory Committee for the Judiciary Leadership Development Council, an honorary chair of America’s 400th Anniversary: Jamestown 2007, a co-chair of the National Advisory Council of the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools, a member of the Selection Committee of the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, and a member of the Advisory Board of the Stanford Center on Ethics. She also serves on several bodies of the American Bar Association, including the Museum of Law Executive Committee, the Commission on Civic Education and Separation of Powers, and the Advisory Commission of the Standing Committee on the Law Library of Congress.

O’Connor previously served as a member of the Anglo-American Exchange (1980); the State Bar of Arizona Committees on Legal Aid, Public Relations, Lower Court Reorganization, and Continuing Legal Education; the National Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (1974–76); the Arizona State Personnel Commission (1968–69); the Arizona Criminal Code Commission (1974–76); and the Cathedral Chapter of the Washington National Cathedral (1991–99).

O’Connor is a member of the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Arizona, the State Bar of California, the Maricopa County Bar Association, the Arizona Judges’ Association, the National Association of Women Judges, and the Arizona Women Lawyers’ Association. She holds a B.A. (with Great Distinction) and an LL.B. (Order of the Coif) from Stanford University, where she was also a member of the board of editors of the Stanford Law Review.

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