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Sandra Day O'Connor, First Female Supreme Court Justice, Reveals Dementia Diagnosis

After law school, she and her husband settled in Phoenix, where they raised three sons. She became a public sector…

After law school, she and her husband settled in Phoenix, where they raised three sons. She became a public sector lawyer and took an interest in Republican politics. In 1969, the Arizona governor appointed her to a vacant state senate seat, which she held in two subsequent elections, rising to the rank of Senate’s majority leader, the first woman to hold the post.

At the beginning of the Supreme Court’s term in 1988, Justice O’Connor learned she had breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy.

When President George W. Bush called Justice O’Connor on the day she announced her retirement, he remarked, “For an old ranching girl, you turned out pretty good,” a reference two here Western roots.

Justice O’Connor was conservative but not an ideologue, said Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of law school at the University of California, Berkeley. She was also a model for how justices should write opinions and conduct themselves on the bench, said Mr. Chemerinsky, who argued cases before Justice O’Connor as a lawyer.

“She was never caustic or sarcastic; There were never personal attacks on other justices, “he said of her opinions. “She was really a decent person, and that decency was reflected in how she treated lawyers in the courtroom.”

Justice O’Connor led an illustrious life that was defined by more than just her time on the bench, said Eugene Volokh, a professor of law at the University of California, Los Angeles, who clerked for Justice O’Connor in the 1990s.

“She was a lawyer, she was a politician,” Mr. Volokh said. “She was an advocate for civic education. She was also a mother and a wife, which I think was tremendously important to her. “

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