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O’Connor to receive honorary degree

Binghamton University will recognize the Honorable Sandra Day O’Connor, associate justice (retired) of the United States Supreme Court, with the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws at a ceremony in New York City on Nov. 4.

The first woman to serve as an associate justice, O’Connor retired in 2006 after 25 years of service. Her distinguished career has helped shape the nation’s law with what has been described as a conservative and pragmatic, yet open, mind.

O’Connor earned her bachelor’s degree in economics from Stanford University, and her bachelor of laws degree from Stanford Law School just two years later. While a student, she was selected for the Order of the Coif, an honorary scholastic society supporting excellence in legal education, and served on the Stanford Law Review. Her career included serving as deputy county attorney of San Mateo County, Calif., and as a civilian attorney for Quartermaster Market Center, Frankfurt, Germany.

Upon her return to the United States, she practiced law in Maryvale, Ariz., and served as assistant attorney general of that state before being appointed to the Arizona State Senate in 1969. O’Connor was subsequently reelected to two two-year terms, serving as majority leader in 1972 — the first woman to hold that office anywhere in the country.

O’Connor was then elected judge of the Maricopa County Superior Court and next appointed to the Arizona Court of Appeals. President Ronald Reagan nominated her as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, and, after Senate confirmation by a unanimous vote, she took her seat Sept. 25, 1981, retiring Jan. 31, 2006.

In addition to her judicial career, O’Connor has authored books about growing up on a cattle farm, women in leadership and the law and two children’s books. She is a member of numerous law associations and a trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History advisory board, chancellor of the College of William & Mary and a visiting judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals.

O’Connor, honored in August 2009 with the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award, has also been recognized with the American Bar Association Medal, induction into the National Women’s Hall of Fame and the American Association of University Women Achievement Award. Among her other many honors, in February 2008, she received the New York State Bar Association’s Gold Medal Award.


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Last Updated: 10/14/08