Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court

The United States Supreme Court is the highest level of the judiciary branch. Out of 112 justices that have served on the court, only four have been women. Three of those four women are currently serving: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonya Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan.

  

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Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor

In 1981, President Reagan nominated Sandra Day O'Connor to replace Potter Stewart as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Although her nomination was originally opposed by pro-life and religious groups, who worried she should not rule in favor of overturning Roe vs. Wade (1973), she was eventually confirmed by a 99-0 vote in the Senate. While she was a conservative jurist, siding with the conservative justices in the majority of cases before her, many of her decisions were praised for being both narrow and moderate. She retired in 2006.

 

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Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

President Bill Clinton nominated Ruth Bader Ginsburg for the Supreme Court in 1993, and she was then confirmed by the U.S. Senate in a 96-3 vote. Before joining the court, Ginsburg worked as a professor, as an attorney (arguing in front of the Supreme Court multiple times on mostly gender-related cases), and as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. In her 24 years as an associate justice on the Supreme Court, Ginsburg has established herself as a champion of women's rights and gender equality. Although thought of as a moderate when confirmed, Justice Ginsburg has consistently voted with the liberal block of the court. She is still serving today at age 84.

 

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Associate Justice Sonya Sotomayor

The U.S. Senate confirmed Sonya Sotomayor as a Supreme Court justice in 2009 to replace retired justice David Souter. Previously, Sotomayor served as a district court judge in New York and on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. She was born in the Bronx to Puerto Rican parents. She was the third woman and first hispanic justice to serve on the Supreme Court. Justice Sotomayor has made waves by standing up for civil rights and rights of defendants, including a scathing dissent in Utah v. Edward Joseph Strieff, Jr. in 2016.

 

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Associate Justice Elena Kagan

Elena Kagan was confirmed as a Supreme Court justice in 2010, replacing John Paul Stevens. Before her confirmation Kagan served as the first female U.S. Solicitor General. Kagan also served as the dean of her alma mater, Harvard Law School, from 2003 to 2009. In 1995, President Clinton asked Kagan to work at the White House as associate counsel, which led to her appointment as Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy and then Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council. She is the only current Supreme Court justice with no prior judicial experience.

 

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