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The death of former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor on December 1st at the age of 93 drew reactions from political leaders across Maryland, who remembered her historic career and impact.
A trailblazer for women in law
Many Maryland politicians emphasized Justice O’Connor’s role as the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court. Governor Larry Hogan said in a statement, “She broke barriers and paved the way for future generations of women in the legal profession.” Senator Ben Cardin praised her as “a trailblazer who made our nation’s highest court look more like America.” They and others acknowledged how she inspired more women to pursue legal careers.
A respected jurist
Leaders from both sides of the aisle also reflected on Justice O’Connor’s judicial legacy. Senate President Bill Ferguson called her “a model of fairness, integrity and wisdom.” He added that she “approached each case with an open and discerning mind.” Even political opponents seemed to respect her moderate approach to the law. Delegate Dan Cox said “She commanded respect through dignified and thoughtful jurisprudence.” Her swing vote role on many landmark cases shaped issues like abortion, affirmative action and the 2000 presidential election.
It's never easy being the first — let alone the first woman on the Supreme Court — but Sandra Day O'Connor more than met that challenge with grace, empathy, and fairness. Today, let's celebrate her legacy by recognizing the good in one another, and ourselves. pic.twitter.com/n9rBU1JILW— Rep. Glenn Ivey (@RepGlennIvey) December 1, 2023
A role model for all
While Justice O’Connor broke barriers as the first female justice, many noted she transcended gender. Senator Chris Van Hollen said “she served as an inspiration and role model, not just for women but for all Americans who believe in equal justice.” As the nation’s highest ranking woman in government for decades, she left a lasting impression with her quiet strength and commitment to democratic institutions. She likely paved the way for future generations of leaders in Maryland and across the U.S.
Justice O’Connor had a monumental impact on law and society during her 24 years on the Supreme Court. Her passing was mourned by political figures in Maryland who recognized her historic accomplishments and the optimism and fairness she brought to the judicial system.