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Northwestern professors remember Sandra Day O’Connor

‘She shaped our country’s laws in critical ways through her consequential opinions’

MEDIA ADVISORY: December 1, 2023

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Sandra Day O’Connor — the first woman on the Supreme Court — died today at the age of 93. The Supreme Court announced the news in a statement, citing her battle with dementia as the cause of death.

“Justice Sandra Day O’Connor made a tremendous impact through her pathbreaking career, which included being the first woman to serve as a U.S. Supreme Court justice and as the Arizona Senate majority leader,” says Hari Osofsky, dean of Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. “After graduating law school at a time when law firms would not hire woman lawyers, she shaped our country’s laws in critical ways through her consequential opinions. I had the honor of meeting her while serving as a law clerk to Judge Dorothy Nelson and was inspired by her insights into law and leadership. My deepest condolences to her loved ones.”

The following professors are available for comment.

Hari Osofsky, the dean and Myra and James Bradwell Professor of Law and professor of environmental law and culture (courtesy) at Northwestern Pritzker Law, can be reached at

Daniel Rodriguez, the Harold Washington Professor of Law at Northwestern Pritzker, can be reached at or 619-871-6990.

Quote from Professor Rodriguez

“Justice O’Connor was a pathbreaker and hugely important public figure of the 20th century. In addition to her historic role as the first female Justice of the Supreme Court, her tenure was especially consequential because of her critical role in writing opinions in closely divided cases where her vote was pivotal. For this reason, few justices have had more impact on American law in the modern era.”