Sandra Day O'Connor Reveals She Has Dementia

Elias Hubbard
October 23, 2018

Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman to ever serve on the highest court in the land, has been diagnosed with dementia and is battling the early stages of the disease, she announced in a public letter addressed to "friends and fellow Americans" on Tuesday morning. Our hearts go out to the trailblazing jurist.

"While the final chapter of my life with dementia may be trying, nothing has diminished my gratitude and deep appreciation for the countless blessing in my life", O'Connor says.

"As this condition has progressed, I am no longer able to participate in public life", O'Connor said. "Since many people have asked about my current status and activities, ".

Roberts said that while he was "saddened to learn" of O'Connor's diagnosis, he "was not at all surprised that she used the occasion of sharing that fact to think of our country first".

Retired U.S. Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O'Connor speaks during a lecture in Concord, N.H., on September 17, 2014.

Born in El Paso, Texas, in 1930, Justice O'Connor took the Supreme Court bench in 1981, nominated by Republican President Ronald Reagan.

O'Connor was a state court judge before being unanimously confirmed to the Supreme Court at 51. She took part in key votes that included Grutter v. Bollinger in 2003, allowing state colleges and universities to use affirmative action in their admissions, and the Bush v. Gore case, which stopped the recount in Florida that officially made George W. Bush as the USA president in 2000.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts an accompanying statement called her a trailblazer.

"When she hit about 86 years old she decided that it was time to slow things down, that she'd accomplished most of what she set out to do in her post-retirement years, that she was getting older physically and her memory was starting to be more challenging, so the time came to dial back her public life", he told the publication. He added, "no illness or condition can take away the inspiration she provides for those who will follow the many paths she has blazed".

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