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O’Connor Says her ‘Heart Sank’ with Supreme Court Nomination

Posted Jan 16, 2009 8:19 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Sandra Day O’Connor was a reluctant U.S. Supreme Court justice.

After a speech in Scottsdale, Ariz., O’Connor was asked about her initial reaction when President Ronald Reagan nominated her to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1981. The Arizona Republic reports on her answer.

"My heart sank," O’Connor said. "I had a very happy life in Arizona. I was a judge. I liked my lifestyle. I liked my family. I liked where we lived, and I didn't want to move to Washington, D.C. ... I had not served on the federal court. ... I didn't know if I could do the job well enough. If I didn't, it's great to be the first, but I didn't want to be the last woman to serve."

O’Connor spoke at an economic event, telling the audience about her father’s disdain for Keynesian economic theories she learned as an economics major during college. She noted the idea that government spending can spark an economic turnaround is back in vogue today. But it wasn't popular with O'Connor's father in the 1940s, according to the newspaper’s report of the speech.

"He was furious," she said. "He said, 'Do you mean to tell me I am spending my hard-earned money to send you to that school where they are teaching you that garbage?' "

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