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PRECEDENT

Pictures of Sandra Day O’Connor’s Supreme Court tenure offer a visual timeline of gender inequality

Johnny Simon
By Johnny Simon

Contributor

Retired US Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Connor has announced her retirement from public life after being diagnosed with dementia, the New York Times reports.

O’Connor, the first woman to sit on America’s highest court, was a justice for more than two decades. Since her appointment by Ronald Reagan in 1981, the composition of the court has shifted dramatically. For years she was the sole woman, until Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined the court in 1993. There are now three women on the court: Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

Pictures from O’Connor’s time on the bench show the slow pace of demographic change over the years:

1982

AP Photo
Seated, from left: Thurgood Marshall, William Brennan Jr., chief justice Warren Burger, Byron White, and Harry Blackmun. Standing, from left: John Paul Stevens, Lewis Powell, William Rehnquist, and Sandra Day O’ Connor.

1986

AP Photo/Bob Daugherty
Seated, from left: Marshall, Brennan, chief justice Rehnquist, White, and Harry Blackmun. Standing, from left: O’Connor, Powell, Stevens, and Antonin Scalia.

1988

AP Photo/Bob Daugherty
Seated, from left: Marshall, Brennan, Rehnquist, White, and Blackmun. Standing, from left: Scalia, Stevens, O’Connor and Anthony M. Kennedy.

1990

AP Photo/Bob Daugherty
Seated, from left: Blackmun, White, Rehnquist,  Marshall and  Stevens. Standing, from left: Kennedy, O’Connor, Scalia, and David Souter.

1991

AP Photo
Seated, from left: Stevens, White, Rehnquist, Blackmun, Sandra Day O’Connor. Standing, from left: Souter, Scalia, Kennedy, and Clarence Thomas.

1993

AP Photo/Marcy Nighswander
Seated, from left: O’Connor, Blackmun, Rehnquist, Stevens, and Scalia. Standing, from left: Thomas, Kennedy, Souter, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

1994

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
Seated, from left: Scalia, Stevens, Rehnquist, O’Connor, and Kennedy. Standing, at rear:  Ginsburg, Souter, Thomas, and Stephen Breyer.

2005

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
Seated, from left: Scalia,  Stevens, chief justice John G. Roberts Jr., O’Connor, and Kennedy. Standing, at rear: Ginsburg, Souter, Thomas, and Breyer.

2006

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
Seated, from left: Kennedy, Stevens, Roberts, Scalia, and Souter. Standing, from left: Breyer, Thomas, Ginsburg, and Alito.
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