Today is the 82nd birthday of retired Supreme Court Justice and a longtime friend of the National Constitution Center, Sandra Day O’Connor.
Back in September 1981, Justice O’Connor made history when she was sworn in as the first female member of the Court. She served for over 24 years and became an influential, moderate voice, casting the key vote in many 5-4 decisions.
The Center was lucky enough to receive a gift from Justice O’Connor when we opened in 2003 – the loan of her first judicial robe, which she wore starting from her first term on the Supreme Court in 1981, for display in our main exhibition. You can see Justice O’Connor’s robe along with other items highlighting the contribution of women to American history when you visit our museum.
You can also hear from Justice O’Connor herself on our We the People iPod tour, which includes excerpts from a number of special guests and scholars. In the clip below, Sandra Day O’Connor recounts the day that she was sworn in, how justices discuss and decide cases, and the most exciting moment of her first week on the bench – casting her first deciding vote as the first female Supreme Court Justice.
Sarah Winski is an Exhibit Developer at the National Constitution Center; she is currently at work on the Center's next traveling exhibition, American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, opening in October 2012.