by Jim Ridley
MURFREESBORO—Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor will help MTSU celebrate its Centennial year during a special visit on Wednesday, Feb. 8, as part of the University’s renowned Windham Lecture Series.
Justice O’Connor will present her free public lecture at 6:30 p.m. in the Hinton Music Hall inside MTSU’s Wright Music Building.
“We are thrilled to host Justice O’Connor on campus,” said Dr. Mark Byrnes, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and a professor of political science at MTSU. “It’s quite an honor to have her come to MTSU. Since her retirement from the bench, she’s been particularly interested in civics education, and that meshes well with MTSU’s commitment to the American Democracy Project.”
Justice O’Connor, a native of El Paso, Texas, earned her bachelor’s and law degrees from Stanford University and served as San Mateo County (Calif.) deputy county attorney and a civilian attorney for the Quartermaster Market Center in Frankfurt, Germany, before practicing law in Maryvale, Ariz. She served as Arizona assistant attorney general from 1965 to 1969 and was appointed to the Arizona State Senate in 1969, earning re-election to two two-year terms in that body. In 1975, she was elected judge of the Maricopa County (Ariz.) Superior Court, where she served until her 1979 appointment to the Arizona Court of Appeals.
She became the first woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court when President Ronald Reagan named her as an associate justice in 1981. During her almost 25 years on the high court, Justice O’Connor cast tie-breaking votes in more than three-fourths of the panel’s 5-4 decisions.
She retired from the court in January 2006, and Arizona State University renamed its law school in her honor that same year. In 2009, President Barack Obama presented the retired jurist with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States.