Sandra Day O’Connor, who served on the U.S. Supreme Court from 1981 until her retirement in 2006, died Dec. 1 at age 93. She was the first female justice in the Court’s history.
David F. Levi, president of the American Law Institute and the James B. Duke and Benjamin N. Duke Dean Emeritus of Law and inaugural director of the Bolch Judicial Institute, called O’Connor “valiant and heroic in trying to protect and defend the Constitution” against an increasing divisive political system and eroding civic discourse.
“Justice O’Connor was a wonderfully thoughtful justice. Her tone and language were always moderate, plain spoken, and modest. Her decisions were respectful of precedent, tradition, and other well-meaning components of our democratic system,” Levi said.
The above is an excerpt from the article Levi and Sandra Day O’Connor clerks Adler and Griffin reflect on the late justice’s legacy posted Dec. 1, 2023, on Duke Law School’s website. The article also includes excerpts from an essay by Duke Law Professor Lisa Kern Griffin that appeared in Judicature Vol. 105 No. 1 (2021), a publication of the Bolch Judicial Institute.