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Retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman to have been nominated and subsequently be appointed to serve on the Supreme Court, has died Friday at the age of 93. The Supreme Court announced her death this morning, stating that she had succumbed to complications of a combination of dementia, Alzheimer’s, and a respiratory illness. O’Connor left public life in October of 018 when she released a statement that she was withdrawing from public life due to the recent diagnosis of dementia, “probably Alzheimer’s disease.”
Just over a decade after she retired from the court, O’Connor had announced in 2018 that she was withdrawing from public life after being diagnosed with dementia.
Nominated to the Supreme Court by then-President Reagan in 1981, O’Connor became the first woman to serve on the nation’s highest bench.
O’Connor was often described as the strongest woman in America and was also revered by her fellow Justices on the bench.
Although William H. Rehnquist, her Stanford Law School classmate, served as chief justice during much of her tenure, the Supreme Court during that crucial period was often called the O’Connor court, and Justice O’Connor was referred to, accurately, as the most powerful woman in America.
O’Connor was a moderately conservative jurist, who voted predominantly with the conservative majority of the bench, however, she was also independent in her decisions and dissenting arguments. O’Connor was also the deciding majority vote on several cases, most notably the election case of Bush v. Gore, in December of 2000. She joined with the majority in what would become a landmark case and ruling that decided that George W. Bush was the winner of the 2000 Presidential election, where former Vice President Gore, contested that he was the winner of the state of Florida, which would have given him the win in that election.
O’Connor is survived by her three adult sons, Scott, Brian, and Jay, and was preceded in death by her late husband John, who also died from complications of Alzheimer’s disease in 2008.