(DCWatchdog.com) – One of the pioneering figures in the US judiciary, with her role as the first woman to serve on the United States Supreme Court, Sandra Day O’Connor, passed away at the age of 93.
O’Connor, who served on the bench as an associate justice between 1981 and 2006, died in Phoenix, Arizona, according to a release by the US Supreme Court.
She passed away from “complications related to advanced dementia, probably Alzheimer’s, and a respiratory illness,” the nation’s highest court informed, as quoted by National Review.
“A daughter of the American Southwest, Sandra Day O’Connor blazed an historic trail as our Nation’s first female Justice. She met that challenge with undaunted determination, indisputable ability, and engaging candor,” stated Chief Justice John Roberts.
He further commemorated her as “a beloved colleague, a fiercely independent defender of the rule of law, and an eloquent advocate for civics education,” while celebrating her legacy as a dedicated public servant and patriot.
Known as a moderate conservative, O’Connor’s tenure on the High Court spanned from 1981, following her appointment by Ronald Reagan, until her retirement in 2006.
During this period, she was joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, appointed in 1993 by Bill Clinton, who served until her death in 2020.
Four other women have since been appointed to the Court: Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Amy Coney Barrett, and Ketanji Brown Jackson.
O’Connor withdrew from public engagements in 2018 after being diagnosed with the early stages of dementia.
“While the final chapter of my life with dementia may be trying, nothing has diminished my gratitude and deep appreciation for the countless blessings in my life,” she wrote in a letter at the time.
“How fortunate I feel to be an American and to have been presented with the remarkable opportunities available to the citizens of our country. As a young cowgirl from the Arizona desert, I never could have imagined that one day I would become the first woman justice on the US Supreme Court,” O’Connor added.
The report notes her judicial career was marked by her influential votes in significant cases.
She played a pivotal role in Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992, a case that upheld abortion rights 30 years before the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and in Bush v. Gore in 2000.
Her decision in the latter case ceased the recount of votes in Florida, effectively deciding the presidential election in favor of George W. Bush over Al Gore, thus reversing the ruling of the Florida Supreme Court.