31 Days of History: 7 July

The Supreme Court of the United States

On 7 July 1981 (28 years ago today), President Reagan announced he was nominating Arizona Judge Sandra Day O'Connor to become the first female justice on the U.S. Supreme Court (Reagan had pledged during the 1980 presidential campaign to appoint a woman to the Supreme Court). She would be nominated to replace Potter Stewart as an Associate Justice.

President Reagan and Sandra Day O'Connor

There have been 110 Supreme Court Justices in the history of our nation, but only two have been female (of note, there have also only been two Justices of African-American descent: Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas.)

O'Connor was confirmed by the United States Senate 99-0 on 21 September and took her seat on the bench 4 days later.

(A little tidbit of trivia: Associate Justices of the Supreme Court receive an annual salary of $208,100 and the Chief Justice receives $217,400.)

She retired from the Court in 2006 and was replaced by Justice Samuel Alito. She currently serves as the Chancellor of the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.


Mark said...

99-0? Who was not present for the vote? I guess I have some homework to do tonight.

Filatore said...

I wondered the exact same thing...please let me know when you find out who it was....

Mark said...

Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), absent.

The next question was why was he absent. As of this moment I have no answer.

Filatore said...

In the book "Sandra Day O'Connor", author Joan Biskupic writes, "On September 21, O'Connor was confimed by the Senate, 99-0. The only person who did not vote was Max Bauces, a Montana Democrat who favored O'Connor but was in his home state when the roll was called."

I can't find any record on why he was absent or what he was doing. Voting for a Supreme Court Justice, who wil serve for life on extremely important cases that have a huge impact in the United States, seems to be a pretty important vote to me.