Sandra Day O’Connor

Sandra Day O'ConnorGrowing up on a ranch taught me to be responsible for doing everything as well as I could.

My favorite line from my dad, Harry A. Day, is: “Just do it, and do it right.”

My favorite line from my mom, Ada Mae Day, is: “I never learned to milk a cow.”

My favorite quote from my college writing teacher, Wallace Stegner, is: “It should not be denied…that being footloose has always exhilarated us. It is associated in our minds with escape from history and oppression and law and irksome obligations, with absolute freedom, and the road has always led west.”

Bug Quinn was the most unreliable character I ever met. He was a wonderful cook, good for laughs, but totally irresponsible about showing up when scheduled. He worked on my family’s Lazy B Ranch from 1916-93, and spent about 60 of those years as roundup cook.

The best advice my dad ever gave me was don’t throw anything away.

Don’t get me started on Congressional gridlock.

The problem with politics today is the lack of civil discourse. Most problems can be resolved with reasonable discussion.

I’ve served on all three branches of Arizona government. I still prefer the judicial branch.

I do not favor popular election of judges, such as almost 20 states in the United States still use. We should learn from other countries that we should move toward a merit selection system for judges, as Arizona did some years ago.

The only time I felt like quitting was when my husband developed an incurable disease. John Jay suffered from Alzheimer’s for nearly 20 years, before he died at the age of 79 in 2009.

The biggest change in Arizona has been urbanization of our state.

Can Arizona ranchers survive another 100 years? I am uncertain they can. We do not know whether the weather patterns will provide enough moisture to produce good grass for livestock in Arizona. We also do not know what the market for beef will be. We can do what ranchers have always done: pray for rain and pray for a decent market.

History has taught me to keep trying to solve our problems; we will never be without them.

Wish I had a dollar for every time someone asked, “Don’t I know you from someplace?”

Sandra Day O’Connor, Former Supreme Court Justice

Sandra Day O’Connor was born in El Paso, Texas, but grew up on a cattle ranch near Duncan, Arizona. She wrote a book, Lazy B, with her brother, H. Alan Day, about their childhood experiences at the ranch. Her illustrious law career includes being the first female majority leader in state legislatures, in 1973 for the Arizona State Senate, and being the first female member of the U.S. Supreme Court, which she served from 1981-2006. In 2009, President Barack Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Her interactive website, iCivics.org, offers civics lessons to students and teachers.

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