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What to know about Sandra Day O'Connor, the Supreme Court's first female justice

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Sandra Day O'Connor dies

Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court, died Friday at 93.

O’Connor was known as a powerful, pragmatic figure on the bench, casting decisive swing votes in landmark cases involving abortion, affirmative action, environmental protection and religious freedom.

She died from complications related to dementia and a respiratory illness, according to a statement from the Supreme Court.

Born in Texas and raised on an Arizona cattle ranch, O’Connor called herself “the first cowgirl to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Former President Ronald Reagan appointed O’Connor in 1981. She was his first Supreme Court appointee, delivering on Reagan’s campaign promise to nominate the first-ever woman to the nation’s highest court.

“The thought of a woman on the U.S. Supreme Court seemed distant, almost unfathomable, before President Ronald Reagan’s nomination of Sandra Day O’Connor," Veronica Vargas Stidvent, executive director of the Center for Women in Law, said in a statement. "Justice O’Connor defied the odds and broke barriers.”


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