The court goes co-ed

It took a long time, but on this day in 1981, the United States Supreme Court welcomes its first female judge, Sandra Day O’Conner. She retired from the court in 2005.

President Ronald Reagan pledged to appoint the first woman to the court during his 1980 campaign. He wrote in his diary on July 6, 1981, “Called Judge O’Conner and told her she was my nominee for supreme court. Already the flak is starting and from my own supporters. Right to Life people say she is pro abortion. She says abortion is personally repugnant to her. I think she’ll make a good justice.”

Among her observations over the years:

  • “My hope is that 10 years from now, after I’ve been across the street at work for a while, they’ll all be glad they gave me that wonderful vote.”
  • “The power I exert on the court depends on the power of my arguments, not on my gender.”
  • “The more education a woman has, the wider the gap between men’s and women’s earnings for the same work.”
  • “A moment of silence is not inherently religious.”
  • “It is difficult to discern a serious threat to religious liberty from a room of silent, thoughtful schoolchildren.”

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