Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has passed away at the age of 93, according to a statement released by the court.
O’Connor was the first woman to serve on the highest court in the United States, ending 191 years of male exclusivity on the bench after being nominated in 1981 by President Ronald Reagan.
Driving the news: A native of Arizona, O’Connor built a reputation as a hard worker who wielded considerable political clout on the court.
- On the bench, she was best known for her influence on the court’s rulings on abortion, and helped reaffirm abortion rights with her pivotal vote in the landmark decision of Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992.
- She retired in 2006, and her seat was filled by Justice Samuel Alito.
- O’Connor was also part of the 5-4 majority that effectively resolved the disputed 2000 presidential election in favor of George W. Bush over Al Gore.
- She was regarded with great fondness by her colleagues, with Justice Clarence Thomas describing her as “an outstanding colleague, civil in dissent and gracious when in the majority.”
- She remained the only woman on the court until 1993, when President Bill Clinton nominated Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The current court includes a record four women.