The S.J. Quinney College of Law mourns the loss of former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who passed away today. A deeply respected jurist, Justice O’Connor’s long tenure was defined by her fearlessness and rigor, her nuanced perspectives, and her incisive understanding of the role of law in our society.
O’Connor had a pivotal role in many of the most consequential Supreme Court rulings of the modern era, and her presence on the court profoundly shaped American culture and society. She established an enduring place in history not just because of her skill as a jurist, but also because of her role as a trailblazer for women.
“Justice O’Connor demonstrated unambiguously that women belong at the very center of the legal profession,” said Utah Law Dean Elizabeth Kronk Warner. “She serves as an inspiration for countless women who have realized their dreams of leading law firms, serving on the bench, shaping policy, or teaching the next generation of law students. As we remember Justice O’Connor, I am especially proud to lead a law school where women hold our top leadership positions and make up a majority of our student body. While there is much more work to be done in diversifying the legal profession, it is partly thanks to Justice O’Connor’s influence that this essential change advances.”
Lee E. Teitelbaum Professor of Law RonNell Andersen Jones clerked for O’Connor at the Supreme Court, and later co-taught a course with her at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law.
“Justice O’Connor modeled for me—and for all of us—what it means to be a good lawyer and a good person,” said Jones. “She believed in hard work, in bridging divides, and in the power of ordinary people to make a difference. She believed in democracy and in preserving the integrity of its institutions. She was an extraordinary woman, and my profound grief at the loss of her is tempered by gratitude that she allowed me to share a portion of that extraordinary life.”