As the first woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, Sandra Day O’Connor was nominated by President Ronald Reagan in 1981 and unanimously confirmed by both liberals and conservatives. She served as an associate justice for nearly 25 years, until her retirement in 2006.
On Saturday, May 10, O’Connor will give a talk at UC Santa Barbara titled “Educating for Democracy in a Digital Age.” Hosted by the campus’s Walter H. Capps Center for the Study of Ethics, Religion, and Public Life, the talk will begin at 3 p.m. in UCSB’s Campbell Hall. It is free and open to the public.
Considered a moderate conservative, O’Connor most frequently sided with the court’s conservative bloc during her tenure as an associate justice, although as the court became more conservative she was regarded as having the swing opinion in many cases.
Among the key decisions during her time on the court were Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, which rejected the Bush administration’s position on enemy combatants and ruled that a citizen held in the U.S. must be given an opportunity to challenge the factual basis of the detention before a neutral decision maker; Bush v. Gore, which effectively made George W. Bush the 43rd president of the United States; Planned Parenthood of Southeastern PA v. Casey, in which O’Connor voted to strike down a portion of an antiabortion law that would have required a minor, virtually without exception, to notify both parents before obtaining an abortion.
O’Connor is the author of several books, including the recent “Out of Order: Stories from the History of the Supreme Court” (Random House, 2013), which explores how the high court has changed since its formation and how it operates in relation to the legislature and the presidency.
More information about O’Connor’s talk is available at www.cappscenter.ucsb.edu