Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the inaugural woman to serve on the highest court in the United States and a pivotal swing vote throughout her nearly 25-year tenure, passed away at the age of 93 on Friday.
Renowned for her involvement in groundbreaking Supreme Court cases addressing issues such as abortion, affirmative action, and civil rights, O’Connor retired in 2006. In 2018, she disclosed her diagnosis of dementia and announced her withdrawal from public life.
Originally nominated by President Ronald Reagan, O’Connor assumed her role on the Supreme Court in 1981. Before her appointment, she had already achieved distinction as the majority leader in Arizona’s state Senate, becoming the first woman to hold that position nationally.
The Supreme Court confirmed that O’Connor succumbed to complications arising from advanced dementia and a respiratory ailment in Phoenix.
Throughout her tenure on the court, spanning three chief justices, O’Connor frequently held the decisive vote in numerous landmark cases. This made her arguably the most influential woman in the country. Notably, she played a crucial role in shaping the 1992 opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which affirmed a woman’s right to abortion while allowing states to impose additional restrictions. However, this decision, along with the court’s 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade, was overturned by the conservative majority last year.