Document Type


Publication Date



As the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor is a profound and fascinating figure in American jurisprudence. During Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign, he promised to appoint a woman to the Supreme Court, and he appointed Sandra Day O’Connor. She was confirmed in 1981 and spent the next twenty-four years on the Supreme Court bench, retiring in 2005. Before her time on the Court, Justice O’Connor devoted herself to public service as an assistant attorney general, deputy county attorney, Arizona state senator and senate minority leader, Maricopa County Superior Court judge, and Arizona Court of Appeals judge. Justice O’Connor’s roots are authentically western, having been raised on a working cattle ranch near the Gila River, bordering Arizona and New Mexico. She is comfortable outdoors in the harsh desert, riding horses, and assisting with ranch work. Yet she is similarly comfortable as an intellectual. She graduated from Stanford University and Stanford University School of Law. Likewise, Justice O’Connor has also been committed to her family as a devoted daughter, wife, and mother of three. When she was appointed to the Supreme Court to replace retiring Justice Potter Stewart, questions loomed about how she would rule on important constitutional issues, including affirmative action and racial and gender equality. For instance, during her tenure as a state legislator and state court judge, she did not face any “true affirmative action” case, and produced no writing on the issue. When responding to questions about affirmative action at her confirmation hearings, Justice O’Connor only observed that it was an issue likely to reach the Court in the future. She was correct, and it is her affirmative action and discrimination decisions that became some of her most notable opinions. As the annotations below demonstrate, commentators and legal scholars have reflected on Justice O’Connor’s work as a woman, a conservative, and a former politician. Her term ended in 2005, and scholars are beginning the process of reflecting on her years on the Court as well as her influence on constitutional law. In an effort to begin and contribute to this analysis, this selected annotated bibliography focuses on both the substantive and scholarly materials Justice O’Connor wrote, and the legal scholarship written about her and her jurisprudence. It is intended as a tool for researchers, and the categorization is intended to assist them by providing logical access to this material.


Catholic University Law Review, Vol. 57, No. 4, p. 1099, 2008

Citation Information

Please cite to the original publication

Included in

Law Commons