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.
We don't accomplish anything in this world alone... and whatever happens is the result of the whole tapestry of one's life and all the weavings of individual threads form one to another that creates something.
Society as a whole benefits 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.
It matters enormously to a successful democratic society like ours that we have three branches of government, each with some independence and some control over the other two. That's set out in the Constitution.
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.
I think we may be seeing the beginnings of a resurgence of civic-mindedness in this country. Hopefully the younger generations, which came out in record numbers during the last presidential election, will pass their enthusiasm on to their children.
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.
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.
Apparently a great many people have forgotten that the framers of our Constitution went to such great effort to create an independent judicial branch that would not be subject to retaliation by either the executive branch or the legislative branch because of some decision made by those judges.
I'm a judge. It seemed to me that it was critical to try to take action to stem the criticism and help people understand that in the constitutional framework, it's terribly important not to have a system of retaliation against decisions people don't like.
The abortion cases produced an enormous amount of mail to my chambers, vastly more than to the other chambers, I am sure. I sometimes thought there wasn't a woman in the United States who didn't write me a letter on one side or the other of that issue.
Sandra Day O'Connor
Well, it's a little odd, the path I took, because when I was young, I wanted to be a cattle rancher. That was what I knew and that was what I liked.
Sandra Day O'Connor
The courts of this country should not be the places where resolution of disputes begins. They should be the places where the disputes end after alternative methods of resolving disputes have been considered and tried.
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.
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.
Despite the encouraging and wonderful gains and the changes for women which have occurred in my lifetime, there is still room to advance and to promote correction of the remaining deficiencies and imbalances.
For students, understanding the separate and unique functions of each branch of government can help them understand how different kinds of government officials can help solve different kinds of problems.
Occasionally we have to interpret an international treaty - one, perhaps, affecting airlines and liability for injury to passengers or damage to goods. Then, of course, we have to look to the precedents of other member nations in resolving issues.
Sandra Day O'Connor
Parents should continue to become more involved with their communities, and more involved in their children's education.