U.S. Supreme Court - The FindLaw U.S. Supreme Court Opinion Summaries Blog

Sandra Day O'Connor Discloses Dementia Diagnosis

In a bit of sad news, retired SCOTUS Justice Sandra Day O'Connor told the world in an open letter that she will be withdrawing from public life due to a dementia diagnosis that is "probably Alzheimer's disease."

At 88 years old, Justice O'Connor explains that she wants to be the one to tell everyone about her condition and share some personal thoughts while she still can.

Teach and Engage the Public

When Justice O'Connor retired, she committed to use her remaining time to advance civic education and engagement.

Like many others, she believes that the public and youth need to be educated about how our government and courts work, and that more needs to be done to make sure that Americans have a better "shared understanding of who we are."

Her letter explains that, to help accomplish her goal, eight years ago, she started iCivics, "to teach the core principles of civics to middle and high school students with free online interactive games and curriculum that make learning relevant and remarkably effective." She further explains that due to her health, she can no longer lead this initiative. She explains that while there are many talented and motivated individuals who will continue on with this work, that these people need help and support.

From Cowgirl to Black Robe

Near the end of her letter, Justice O'Connor expresses her surprise to her assent to the Highest Court in the land in a rather endearing way:

"As a young cowgirl from the Arizona desert, I never could have imagined that one day I would become the first woman justice on the U.S. Supreme Court."

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