(NationRise.com) – Sandra Day O’Connor, who was the first woman to be part of the United States Supreme Court and one of the most important figures in the country’s modern history, died on December 1 in Phoenix, Arizona, after complications of dementia. She was 93 years old.
O’Connor, who was the daughter of an Arizona rancher, was nominated by President Ronald Reagan and eventually confirmed by the Senate in a historic and unanimous vote in 1981. Her confirmation ended with 191 years of male exclusivity on the country’s high court. She was a moderate conservative and was considered by most media outlets as the most powerful woman in the United States back then.
O’Connor wielded a massive influence on the nine-member court, usually favoring states in conflicts with the federal government and generally siding with police when officers faced claims of violating people’s rights. She also joined the majority in different decisions that reaffirmed and upheld Roe v. Wade, which eventually became the decision that said that every woman had a right to abortion.
In a public letter published in October 2018, the former justice, who hadn’t been seen in public for a time, announced that she was withdrawing from public life as she was diagnosed with first stages of dementia.
O’Connor laid in repose in the courts of the Great Hall on December 18. Her former clerks lined in front of the court while her casket was carried up and passed under the words “Equal Justice Under Law,” which were engraved on the pediment. Authorities opened the hall to the public so everyone could pay their respects from 10:30 am to 8 pm. The nine members of the current Supreme Court and retired Justice Anthony Kennedy attended O’Connor’s remembrance.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who currently serves on the iCivics governing board, which O’Connor funded, said that she was always her “life role model.” Sotomayor also said that O’Connor left an indelible mark on the United States and the court, as she was the “living example” that every woman can take on “any challenge.”
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