Biography •  Politics •  Women and Southwest

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Sandra Day O'Connor: Justice in the Balance

Ann McFeatters

On July 1, 1981, President Ronald Reagan interviewed Sandra Day O'Connor as a candidate for the United States Supreme Court. A few days later, he called her. "Sandra, I'd like to announce your nomination to the Court tomorrow. Is that all right with you?" Scared and wondering if this was a mistake, the little-known judge from Arizona was on her way to becoming the first woman justice and one of the most powerful women in the nation.

Born in El Paso, Texas, O'Connor grew up on the Lazy B, a cattle ranch that spanned the Arizona-New Mexico border. There she learned lifelong lessons about self-reliance, hard work, and the joy of the outdoors.

Ann Carey McFeatters sketches O'Connor's formative years there and at Stanford University and her inability to find a job--law firms had no interest in hiring a woman lawyer. McFeatters writes about how O'Connor juggled marriage, a career in law and politics, three sons, breast cancer, and the demands of fame.

In this second volume in the Women's Biography Series, we learn how O'Connor became the Court's most important vote on such issues as abortion, affirmative action, the death penalty, the role of religion in society, and the election of a president, decisions that shaped a generation of Americans.


Ann Carey McFeatters is Washington Bureau Chief for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The Toledo Blade and writes a weekly column about the White House for Scripps Howard News Service.

Kristie Miller, an author and journalist, is the Washington, D.C., correspondent for the La Salle, Illinois, NewsTribune. Her previous books include Isabella Greenway: An Enterprising Woman and Ruth Hanna McCormick: A Life in Politics. She lives in McLean, Virginia.

Melanie Gustafson teaches history at the University of Vermont.


"In this new book, political reporter Ann McFeatters outlines the fascinating life of a remarkable pioneer woman and shows not only how Sandra Day O'Connor changed American society but how a Supreme Court appointment changed her."


Arcadia News, AZ

" Sandra Day O'Connor: Justice in the Balance is biographer Ann Carey McFeatters' illuminating and affectionate tribute to a pioneer who let conscience and reverence for the law outweigh personal interest in informing her decisions."


The Advocate, TN

"Ann McFeatters' biography, Sandra Day O'Connor: Justice in the Balance, reveals how a little quirk of fate landed the brilliant legal mind her seat on the Supreme Court."


El Paso Times

6 x 9 in. 232 pages 1 halftone