50 Sandra Day O’Connor Quotes from the First Woman of the Supreme Court


These Sandra Day O’Connor quotes are empowering, educational, and truly inspirational.

Sandra Day O’Connor was one of the most popular women in politics and law in the United States of America. She is a retired attorney and politician who served as an associate justice of the Supreme Court.

O’Connor was the first woman to hold the position and she held it for more than two decades. Her credentials as a lawyer caught the interest and attention of President Ronald Reagan who nominated and confirmed her post. He believed in her ability to lead and make good decisions for the country.

Looking into O’Connor’s previous work in law, you can tell that she truly deserved the highest position an attorney can get. She was a powerful figure in Arizona as a judge and has been one of the most influential women in the world. Enjoy these Sandra Day O’Connor quotes and sayings!

Don’t forget to also check out these Ruth Bader Ginsburg quotes on standing for justice.

Best Sandra Day O’Connor Quotes

1. “The freedom to criticize judges and other public officials is necessary to a vibrant democracy.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

2. “Do the best you can in every task, no matter how unimportant it may seem at the time. No one learns more about a problem than the person at the bottom.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

3. “We don’t accomplish anything in this world alone.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

4. “Liberty finds no refuge in a jurisprudence of doubt.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

5. “This chance will stand before you only once.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

6. “I don’t know that there are any short cuts to doing a good job.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

7. “I think I learned to appreciate and treasure each day, because you don’t know how many you’re going to be given.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

8. “Slaying the dragon of delay is no sport for the short-winded.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

9. “If I stumbled badly in doing the job, I think it would have made life more difficult for women, and that was a great concern of mine and still is.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

10. “Each of us brings to our job, whatever it is, our lifetime of experience and our values.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

Sandra Day O’Connor Quotes on Law and Justice

11. “Unfortunately civility is hard to codify or legislate, but you know it when you see it. It’s possible to disagree without being disagreeable.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

12. “In my work a good library is essential. It enables me to learn the background and previous discussions of the various issues I am called upon to decide. It provides the stability and continuity for the rule of law.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

13. “Yes, I will bring the understanding of a woman to the Court, but I doubt that alone will affect my decisions.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

14. “The proper role of the judiciary is one of interpreting and applying the law, not making it.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

15. “I care very much about women and their progress. I didn’t go march in the streets, but when I was in the Arizona Legislature, one of the things that I did was to examine every single statute in the state of Arizona to pick out the ones that discriminated against women and get them changed.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

16. “I finally gave up my little law practice and stayed home for about three years. You have to do what you can to keep the family going. But I wanted to get back to work. So I got another babysitter and went to work as an Assistant Attorney General.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

17. “The framers of the Constitution were so clear in the federalist papers and elsewhere that they felt an independent judiciary was critical to the success of the nation.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

18. “The prima facie evidence provision in this case ignores all of the contextual factors that are necessary to decide whether a particular cross burning is intended to intimidate. The First Amendment does not permit such a shortcut.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

19. “Statutes authorizing unreasonable searches were the core concern of the framers of the 4th Amendment.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

20. “I sort of thought the framers of the Constitution were talking about the rights of individuals, not corporate entities.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

21. “When I went to law school, which after all was back in the dark ages, we never looked beyond our borders for precedents. As a state court judge, it never would have occurred to me to do so, and when I got to the Supreme Court, it was very much the same. We just didn’t do it.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

Sandra Day O’Connor Quotes with Life Lessons

22. “Young women today often have very little appreciation for the real battles that took place to get women where they are today in this country. I don’t know how much history young women today know about those battles.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

23. “Commitment to the rule of law provides a basic assurance that people can know what to expect whether what they do is popular or unpopular at the time.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

24. “Having family responsibilities and concerns just has to make you a more understanding person.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

25. “Parents should continue to become more involved with their communities, and more involved in their children’s education.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

26. “The family unit plays a critical role in our society and in the training of the generation to come.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

27. “You have citizens who don’t understand how government works and they’re kind of soured on it. All they do is criticize. They have no idea that they can make things happen.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

28. “The destiny of the woman must be shaped to a large extent on her own conception of her spiritual imperative and her place in society.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

29. “Be aware that even before you have reached your ultimate professional destination, if you always strive for excellence, you can and should have a substantial impact on the world in which you live.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

30. “As a citizen, you need to know how to be a part of it, how to express yourself – and not just by voting.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

31. “We pay a price when we deprive children of the exposure to the values, principles, and education they need to make them good citizens.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

Sandra Day O’Connor Quotes Reflecting on Her Life

32. “I loved my husband very much, and it was heartbreaking to have him develop Alzheimer’s disease, and to stand by and watch him decline in his ability to take care of himself.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

33. “I wanted to be a cattle rancher when I was young, because it was what I knew and I loved it.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

34. “And I went off to Stanford, I was pretty young and pretty naive. And I had a professor I really loved, who was himself a lawyer.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

35. “The power I exert on the court depends on the power of the power of my arguments, not my gender.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

36. “How dare you make my life a felony.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

37. “I need to retire from retirement.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

38. “What was a problem was the excessive amount of media attention to the appointment of the first woman and everything she did. Everywhere that Sandra went, the press was sure to go. And that got tiresome; it was stressful.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

39. “I had become increasingly concerned in recent years about the lack of civics education in our nation’s schools. In recent years, the schools have stopped teaching it. And it’s unfortunate.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

More Sandra Day O’Connor Quotes on Justice and Government

40. “So how as a nation can we sit around and eat Mexican food, and drink beer and make friends? That’s the question. If we can do that on a broader scale, I think we’ll come out of it all right.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

41. “I don’t know how a judge can concentrate on being fair and impartial when he or she is faced with possible jail time for making a decision that others deem incorrect.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

42. “We hold that the reckless disregard for human life implicit in knowingly engaging in criminal activity known to carry a grave risk of death represents a highly culpable mental state that may be taken into account in making a capital sentencing judgment not inevitable, lethal result.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

43. “Half the states have stopped making civics and government a requirement for high school. Half.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

44. “The government now has license to transfer property from those with fewer resources to those with more. The Founders cannot have intended this perverse result.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

45. “Cyberspace undeniably reflects some form of geography.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

46. “My sense is that jurists from other nations around the world understand that our court occupies a very special place in the American system, and that the court is rather well regarded in comparison, perhaps, to their own.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

47. “In order to cultivate a set of leaders with legitimacy in the eyes of the citizenry, it is necessary that the path to leadership be visibly open to talented and qualified individuals of every race and ethnicity.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

48. “Society as a whole benefit immeasurably from a climate in which all persons, regardless of race or gender, may have the opportunity to earn respect, responsibility, advancement and remuneration based on ability.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

49. “I think the important thing about my appointment is not that I will decide cases as a woman, but that I am a woman who will get to decide cases.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

50. “If parents instill a sense of civic-mindedness – and there is no better way to do that than by example – their children will probably follow.” –Sandra Day O’Connor

What did you learn from these Sandra Day O’Connor Quotes?

These Sandra Day O’Connor quotes indeed mirror her role in justice and law in the United States. Her statements have been important in shaping the future of law in the country. Many have and will continue to learn from her words.

As one of the most powerful and influential women in the world, O’Connor proved that she can be at par or even surpass the experiences and achievements of men in the field. She proved how a woman can do more in politics and in law. Her great contribution was recognized when President Barack Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

What’s your biggest takeaway from these Sandra Day O’Connor quotes and sayings? Do you have any other favorite quotes to add? Let us know in the comment section below.


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