By Justice Sandra Day O'Connor

Interview with Charlie Rose

March 5, 2013

Interview with Charlie Rose
Type: Interview, TV appearance
Location: Charlie Rose


Charlie Rose: In 1981 she became the first woman to serve on the United States Supreme Court. Many have called her the most important woman in American history In 1952 when she graduated from Stanford Law School, most firms would not hire her because of her gender but she was not deterred. She quickly rose to the top of the legal profession. For nearly 25 years she was the swing vote on the court on issues ranging from affirmative action to abortion to campaign finance. She left her post as Associate Justice in 2006. She has written a new book about the history of the Supreme Court. It is called "Out of Order". I am pleased to have Justice Sandra Day O'Connor back at this table. Welcome.

 Sandra Day O'Connor: Thank you. It's good to be here.

 Charlie Rose: Business first. All right?

 Sandra Day O'Connor: All right.

 Charlie Rose: Business first. You gave me this.

 Sandra Day O'Connor: I did.

 Charlie Rose: When I saw you a couple of days ago.

 Sandra Day O'Connor: I did.

 Charlie Rose: And you're not getting it back.

 Sandra Day O'Connor: No, I didn't expect to.

 Charlie Rose: OK in fact you wouldn't take it. But I have this one which ha my name on it. And so I'm giving it you.

 Sandra Day O'Connor: Is that right?

 Charlie Rose: That's exactly right.

 Sandra Day O'Connor: But this is weathered and has a name.

 Charlie Rose: That's why I want to you have it.

 Sandra Day O'Connor: And gold on the pages.

 Charlie Rose: And proudly I want you to have this.

 Sandra Day O'Connor: Heavens. Well, all right. I'm honored indeed. Thank you.

 Charlie Rose: Thank you very much. Everybody needs a Constitution.

 Sandra Day O'Connor: Thank you yes, they do. And we need to (INAUDIBLE).

 Charlie Rose: And why do think they did?

 Sandra Day O'Connor: Because it's the fundamental document of our country. It's the basis of our government.

 Charlie Rose: Yes.

 Sandra Day O'Connor: And I just think everybody needs to know about it, what it does. And take it around so that we know you take it seriously. And I just think it's important to have one with you much of the time.

 Charlie Rose: Yes and keep -- and keep you in touch with what makes this country great.

 Sandra Day O'Connor: Absolutely.

 Charlie Rose: Right so you've written a new book "Out of Order, stories from the history of the Supreme Court". The first book was about -- I remember wonderfully it was about -- about you growing up in cowboy land.

 Sandra Day O'Connor: Yes, about Lazy B Ranch.

 Charlie Rose: About the life of a young woman from Lazy B Ranch. Right.

 Sandra Day O'Connor: Yes.

 Charlie Rose: And then the second one was a book of your speeches.

 Sandra Day O'Connor: Yes.

 Charlie Rose: And then what's this one?

 Sandra Day O'Connor: Well this is just some stories about the history of the court.

 Charlie Rose: Do you have a favorite justice?

 Sandra Day O'Connor: Well, I'd have to work on that.

 Charlie Rose: Well I'll suggest Marshall just to make it easy.

 Sandra Day O'Connor: John Marshall was amazing because he got it started and he gave it a good start. Don't you think? I do.

 Charlie Rose: I do. I do.

 Sandra Day O'Connor: And it was so hard in those days.

 Charlie Rose: Yes.

 Sandra Day O'Connor: They had to roam around the country and the justices had to sit with other courts all around --

 Charlie Rose: Before they had great marble edifice that they have now across the Capitol.

 Sandra Day O'Connor: Right. They have no -- no place. And I just think it had to be brutal in the early days.

 Charlie Rose: And no respect as you have now.

 Sandra Day O'Connor: No respect. No respect.

 Charlie Rose: That you have now.

 Sandra Day O'Connor: No respect.

 Charlie Rose: Not since the final arbiter of the rule of law.

 Sandra Day O'Connor: That's right.

 Charlie Rose: Yes you've come a long way.

 Sandra Day O'Connor: Right. It has.

 Charlie Rose: And John Marshall did what. He established the rule of --

 Sandra Day O'Connor: Well we call it the rule of law --

 Charlie Rose: He started these places.

 Sandra Day O'Connor: And we didn't talk about the rule of law in his day.

 Charlie Rose: Yes.

 Sandra Day O'Connor: That has come later, I think, with some success of the courts and I think it is a common term these days.

 Charlie Rose: How do you think the courts change beyond what we have just pointed out over the years?

 Sandra Day O'Connor: Well, for one thing, it doesn't have to travel.

 Charlie Rose: Yes.

 Sandra Day O'Connor: They come to Washington. And for another the justices tend to serve rather a long time these days. And they didn't always in the early days.

 Charlie Rose: Yes did you -- why did you retire?

 Sandra Day O'Connor: Well, because John Connor, my beloved husband had Alzheimer's disease.

Charlie Rose: Right.

Sandra Day O'Connor: And that gets worse as time passes.

Charlie Rose: Right.

Sandra Day O'Connor: And he was reaching the point where he was going to have to go in a care facility. And I really thought he should be in Arizona where our children were.

Charlie Rose: Right.

Sandra Day O'Connor: And I wasn't there and it seemed to me at that point I better get down from the court and be available for John.

Charlie Rose: You're comfortable with your role in history?

Sandra Day O'Connor: Oh, I'm honored to have been the first woman on the court. I mean that -- how could I ever imagine doing anything like that? I certainly didn't when I was admitted to law school. It was not anything to which I aspired. It was inconceivable.

Charlie Rose: And when Ronald Reagan called you up to say I want you to --

Sandra Day O'Connor: He got on the phone and I was at my office in my chambers on the Court of Appeals in Arizona. And he said "Sandra I would like to announce your nomination tomorrow for the Supreme Court, is that all right with you." And I just you know, I knew that they had been looking.

Charlie Rose: Yes.

Sandra Day O'Connor: But what do you say to something like that?

Charlie Rose: Yes.

Sandra Day O'Connor: Well, I said "Mr. President, I would be honored."

Charlie Rose: Yes.

Sandra Day O'Connor: And it was an amazing turn of events. Yes there was some --

Charlie Rose: What did you love about being on the court?

Sandra Day O'Connor: Well, having challenging, interesting questions to answer. That was my job. And imagine, being lucky enough to have that be your job. And that's what a lawyer dreams of is to be able to address challenging legal issues and answer them. I mean what could be better than that?

Charlie Rose: Is there a perfect experience for sitting on the court? I mean do you need to come from the court of appeals or at the district court levels or state court.

Sandra Day O'Connor: Well it wouldn't hurt. It wouldn't hurt.

Charlie Rose: Yes.

Sandra Day O'Connor: I had served just on state courts --

Charlie Rose: Right.

Sandra Day O'Connor: -- but you need a little experience in deciding appellate issues, I think. And you certainly need to have demonstrated a little skill in your academic life for --

Charlie Rose: Yes.

Sandra Day O'Connor: -- deciding issues of the court.

Charlie Rose: So once you're sitting as a justice and you know that you're going to have two advocates coming before you to argue.

Sandra Day O'Connor: Yes, yes.

Charlie Rose: And this has got to be for them a terrifying moment.

Sandra Day O'Connor: It has to be challenging.

Charlie Rose: Exactly. How do you prepare? Do you have a list of questions that are unanswered for you?

Sandra Day O'Connor: Yes. You do have occasionally some. I would jot some down at times so that I wouldn't forget it. Because when I was preparing for the case I would read everything and I'd have some thoughts and then I would put it aside until the day of oral argument so I didn't want to forget. And I jot down some of them. If there was a question I thought was very important to ask.

Charlie Rose: The advocates, you call Daniel Webster, one of the great advocates before the Supreme Court.

Sandra Day O'Connor: Yes.

Charlie Rose: A talented mind.

Sandra Day O'Connor: Yes, he sure was.

Charlie Rose: And advocate.

Sandra Day O'Connor: And in the early days you know, they didn't have time limits on arguments. The arguments went on and on and on, sometimes more than a day. Can you imagine?

Charlie Rose: Of all the justices you have seen while sitting on the court, who have -- who exhibited the most piercing analytical interrogation.

Sandra Day O'Connor: Of the ones that I saw?

Charlie Rose: Yes. Who?

Sandra Day O'Connor: Well I' not sure. I think Bill Rehnquist wasn't too bad.

Charlie Rose: Is he pretty good?

Sandra Day O'Connor: He was a sharp guy.

Charlie Rose: Yes.

Sandra Day O'Connor: He really -- he was in law school too.

Charlie Rose: Yes I know, you both went to Stanford. Same class?

Sandra Day O'Connor: Same class.

Charlie Rose: Was he number one?

Sandra Day O'Connor: I -- probably, I don't know. Stanford actually didn't rank but he had to be marvelous.

Charlie Rose: Yes he's a pretty good Chief Justice too.

Sandra Day O'Connor: I thought so.

Charlie Rose: Yes because he knew how to manage a court and bring them together make sure that they're --

Sandra Day O'Connor: Yes I thought he did well.

Charlie Rose: Yes. When you -- when you think about the cases, what was the hardest case for you?

Sandra Day O'Connor: Well, I can't remember and go back now and rank it but some of them are very hard to figure out. You aren't sure. You spend a lot of time on it and you're still not sure by the time of the argument how you ought to resolve it.

Charlie Rose: So you wouldn't decide until you heard the argument. And sometimes the argument would turn you around?

Sandra Day O'Connor: Oh sometimes I would -- sometimes I would have decided on -- based on what I read. I know what I'm going to do in this case. Other cases were just so tough that even after reading everything, you weren't absolutely sure. And then you'd say well I'll wait and hear an argument. And then you hear the argument and you'd have to go back and think about it some more. A few of them were that challenging.

Charlie Rose: So you -- or you might change your mind and make you think.

Sandra Day O'Connor: Yes, absolutely.

Charlie Rose: You believe that the values you learned on the ranch were the same values that served you on the court.

Sandra Day O'Connor: Well, yes. I learned about hard work --

Charlie Rose: Yes.

Sandra Day O'Connor: -- really hard work. And being self-reliant because there were many things you had to do on your own. There wasn't somebody there to help you. And we had to do it and do it well. That doesn't hurt --

Charlie Rose: No.

Sandra Day O'Connor: -- to make that a habit.

Charlie Rose: Do you, once you get to the court, and you're sitting on the court and you get to play the role of -- of a swing justice.

Sandra Day O'Connor: Now, I don't like that term --

Charlie Rose: Oh stop it you do.

Sandra Day O'Connor: No I do not.

Charlie Rose: Oh come on.

Sandra Day O'Connor: Swing, I mean that sounds like you don't care what it is, you're just swinging away.

Charlie Rose: It's not like that at all. It sounds like the person who therefore sometimes rules with the conservative, sometimes rules with the liberals and whatever decision she makes will be the determining factor in the decision of the court on that very important case. That gives you immense power and you knew you had it. And you --

Sandra Day O'Connor: Sometimes -- sometimes that was correct.

Charlie Rose: -- and you cared to exercise it.

Sandra Day O'Connor: Sometimes that's correct. The court was divided in such a way that a single vote could turn it from an affirm to a reverse.

Charlie Rose: Yes.

Sandra Day O'Connor: And I found myself in that situation.

Charlie Rose: Now why, just because you saw both sides of many cases?

Sandra Day O'Connor: I don't know. I mean any other justice could say the same as I. They could say I could change my vote.

Charlie Rose: Yes but they pretty much voted in a certain way and you would go from left to right.

Sandra Day O'Connor: Well it depends. No, I don't think that's quite fair.

Charlie Rose: Why isn't it fair?

Sandra Day O'Connor: Because I didn't just run around going from left to right. God that just isn't -- sometimes --

Charlie Rose: I can't believe you don't want to accept -- it made you powerful.

Sandra Day O'Connor: Well, I wasn't looking for power.

Charlie Rose: You were the most influential woman in the history.

Sandra Day O'Connor: I had enough power with my single vote. I didn't know, I didn't have to swing around to gain power.

Charlie Rose: But you -- I believe you liked it. You liked the fact that you --

Sandra Day O'Connor: I liked being on the court.

Charlie Rose: Of course you did. But you liked the fact you could decide.

Sandra Day O'Connor: Well I had to decide --

Charlie Rose: It wasn't more than one vote. It became a vote that would decide.

Sandra Day O'Connor: Some of the cases, a few of the cases.

Charlie Rose: And you liked that.

Sandra Day O'Connor: I didn' object. It wasn't something to which I aspired.

Charlie Rose: Yes.

Sandra Day O'Connor: I didn't want to be in that situation. That wasn't what I wanted to do. I thought everybody should agree with me. It ought to be nine-zip my way.

Charlie Rose: Yes how many nine-zip cases did you see? Many?

Sandra Day O'Connor: Yes. I did.

Charlie Rose: You really to see more than we think?

Sandra Day O'Connor: Oh yes. Absolutely.

Charlie Rose: Where if all of the justices is nine to zero.

Sandra Day O'Connor: Yes, yes.

Charlie Rose: Yes.

Sandra Day O'Connor: Yes, that's what I liked, yes, the role.

Charlie Rose: How did you like Bush v. Gore?

Sandra Day O'Connor: Well, that was tough. It was not nine-zip.

Charlie Rose: Exactly right. It was five.

Sandra Day O'Connor: Five-four.

Charlie Rose: Five-four.

Sandra Day O'Connor: It was a hard case.

Charlie Rose: What did you think of that case? Hard case somebody once said makes bad law.

Sandra Day O'Connor: Well that's what is said sometimes.

Charlie Rose: Yes.

Sandra Day O'Connor: And that's possible. But that was a very challenging case and a lot -- an election --

Charlie Rose: Yes.

Sandra Day O'Connor: -- was riding on the outcome.

Charlie Rose: And some people believe that the court heard that election and realized that and -- and therefore politics got involved.

Sandra Day O'Connor: Well, people tend to say a lot of things that aren't necessarily true. And I don't think that was the point.

Charlie Rose: Yes.

Sandra Day O'Connor: We had some tough issues in that case to decide and we did. And we thought and the Florida vote counters --

Charlie Rose: Right.

Sandra Day O'Connor: -- did not do the kind of job that one would hope they would do.

Charlie Rose: Do you regret your vote?

Sandra Day O'Connor: No.

Charlie Rose: You don't.

Sandra Day O'Connor: No. I think we did the right thing based on what happened down there.

Charlie Rose: Deciding who will be president. The Supreme Court decides wh will be president.

Sandra Day O'Connor: That wa the result of a decision on something else.

Charlie Rose: Right.

Sandra Day O'Connor: How the election was conducted. But the end result was an outcome of the election. That wasn't the intended objective of the vote.

Charlie Rose: When you look at the court today --

Sandra Day O'Connor: Yes.

Charlie Rose: -- how, do you believe it has the same quality of the same court you served. When you look at the quality of the people there -- when you look at --

Sandra Day O'Connor: Well as far as I can tell. Yes, I have served with them.

Charlie Rose: I know but you --

Sandra Day O'Connor: -- so but I see what they do and I think -- I think we have a court with capable justices on it and gifted people sitting here and serving and trying to do their best. I think we have that.

Charlie Rose: What have you hoped to achieve since you left the court because of your love of your husband.

Sandra Day O'Connor: I am hoping -- I am involved in some very hard work to try to teach young people Civics. Did you know that we've stopped doing that?

Charlie Rose: No.

Sandra Day O'Connor: All right. Well I want to educate you a little bit.

Charlie Rose: Well I need all the help I can get.

Sandra Day O'Connor: I mean, OK. Young people, I'm talking middle schoolers and high schoolers, today can't name the three branches of government. A high percentage cannot.

Charlie Rose: That's like the ninth grade, tenth grade.

Sandra Day O'Connor: Right. Right and it's pathetic. They don't know anything. And so I think it's vitally important that we teach Civics. After the Constitution was adopted, when we had a system of government, some people began to circulate around to the states and say look, we have this good system of government now, we should develop public schools to teach our young people how it works so they can be part of it. That's why we got public schools. It was to educate people on our Constitution and our system of government. Today, they have apparently lost the message and aren't teaching Civics anymore. And I think --

Charlie Rose: And why is that?

Sandra Day O'Connor: Well, we're into math and science and reading and other things.

Charlie Rose: Yes all right. Yes.

Sandra Day O'Connor: All of which are important. But I think it's vital, no matter what else you're doing that we teach young people how our government works and how they're part of it. That's critical.

Charlie Rose: And so what will -- what will -- how will your effort change things?

Sandra Day O'Connor: All right, I started a Web site. It's called iCivics. ICivics. We have iPads and iPods and I-everything and now we have iCivics. And it's consists of games that the young people play.

Charlie Rose: Yes.

Sandra Day O'Connor: To teach certain basic principles about how the government works.

Charlie Rose: Yes.

Sandra Day O'Connor: I have a marvelous advisory group of teachers who advises us on what needs to be taught. And then they're encompassed in games. We have now 19 games and the 19th game is one to help them learn to write more intelligently.

Charlie Rose: Yes.

Sandra Day O'Connor: Write their papers. I think we're going to do have to do more than one game on that because it's important.

Charlie Rose: Well you know what when people come to me and talk about what's the perfect kind of education. Of course there is no perfect education but clearly you should know history.

Sandra Day O'Connor: Yes.

Charlie Rose: And clearly you should know Civics, clearly you should know -- you should know languages.

Sandra Day O'Connor: Yes.

Charlie Rose: And clearly you should understand your basic principles of economy --

Sandra Day O'Connor: Right.

Charlie Rose: -- and the political system.

Sandra Day O'Connor: Some of the basics.

Charlie Rose: All of that will make you, you know, a person that can more fully enjoy life and participate in life.

Sandra Day O'Connor: Right, right.

Charlie Rose: But you also, the thing that I find that's missing and that you need to -- we need more is the ability to communicate -- the ability to speak well and to write well.

Sandra Day O'Connor: And to write well.

Charlie Rose: To know what you think and be able to express it.

Sandra Day O'Connor: Right. That's right. And so one of our programs for iCivics now --

Charlie Rose: Yes.

Sandra Day O'Connor: -- is to teach them to write better. Write well, I hope.

Charlie Rose: Right, right.

Sandra Day O'Connor: And that's important. So I've been very enthused. I have chairmen now in all 50 states. And we're averaging right now having at least 30,000 students a day get into and play these games. It's not enough. I would like 70,000 a day but we're getting there.

Charlie Rose: Talk to me about women in America today and the fact that you still in terms if you look at the number of CEOs and look at the number of people in Congress lagging behind.

Sandra Day O'Connor: Yes, but so much better than it's ever been. I look at it and I feel encouraged not discouraged. It's really changed.

Charlie Rose: We've got a long way to go.

Sandra Day O'Connor: It's really to me. Yes but we've made enough progress that we're going to make, we're going to close the gap.

Charlie Rose: So when you got out of law school and you had all the grades than anybody, you had great grades.

Sandra Day O'Connor: Yes.

Charlie Rose: You were a wonderful person.

Sandra Day O'Connor: I don't know about that.

Charlie Rose: Oh yes well oh really. Really?

Sandra Day O'Connor: But I tried to get a job. I tried to get a job.

Charlie Rose: I know and what did they say to you.

Sandra Day O'Connor: I could not get an interview. They wouldn't even talk --

Charlie Rose: Not even an interview.

Sandra Day O'Connor: No. And there were at least 40 names on the bulletin boards at Stanford saying "Stanford law grads call us we want to talk to you about employment". I called every single number --

Charlie Rose: Every day Sandra would call.

Sandra Day O'Connor: I called every single number and not one of them would talk to me.

Charlie Rose: Did they return your phone call?

Sandra Day O'Connor: When I got hold of somebody they would say well we don't hire men.

 Charlie Rose: Really.

 Sandra Day O'Connor: And it was unbelievable to me.

 Charlie Rose: Does it make you crazy, angry?

 Sandra Day O'Connor: Well I was shocked -- I was shocked because I had a good record and I felt sure I could do a decent job. And I couldn't believe that I was not going to get a job interview. And I didn't. And I then learned that the county attorney in San Mateo County, California had once had a woman on his staff. So I wrote him, made an appointment to see him.

 Charlie Rose: Yes.

 Sandra Day O'Connor: And he was very nice. You know they are glad handers. They are elected so he was. And he said oh you would be fine. But right now I'm not funded to hire another deputy. I spent my money that th supervisors gave me.

 Charlie Rose: Right.

 Sandra Day O'Connor: So I said well I really want to work for you so I'll tell you what I'll do. I'll work for you for nothing if you'll appoint me for nothing.

 Charlie Rose: Right.

 Sandra Day O'Connor: And I said I know you don't have any empty office to put another deputy but I'm at your secretary and there is room in her office for another desk if she didn't object. And that was my first job ou of law school. No pay. And I put my desk in with the secretary.

 Charlie Rose: And how long before they started paying you at your own office.

 Sandra Day O'Connor: Well it was a while. It took a number of months.

 Charlie Rose: Yes.

 Sandra Day O'Connor: But that's how I got my foot --

 Charlie Rose: So explain -- OK so explain what -- what was going on there. You have showed a lot of initiative. You wanted it to happen. You would not let their failure to recognize your talent --

 Sandra Day O'Connor: I had to have a job.

 Charlie Rose: You have to have a job?

 Sandra Day O'Connor: Yes.

 Charlie Rose: So how did you survive? What did you -- how did you afford shelter and food?

 Sandra Day O'Connor: Well no John's parents were very nice and they would give us meals, they would bring food once a week.

 Charlie Rose: Yes and you also were a politician.

 Sandra Day O'Connor: Well eventually, yes.

 Charlie Rose: Yes.

 Sandra Day O'Connor: I ran for office in Arizona and served in the legislature for some time.

 Charlie Rose: Is it the Senate or House.

 Sandra Day O'Connor: Senate.

 Charlie Rose: In the Senate. So did you ever think about I could be governor of Arizona.

 Sandra Day O'Connor: I did. But as a matter of fact, I was thinking of running for Governor.

 Charlie Rose: I know.

 Sandra Day O'Connor: But Bruce Babbitt came along.

 Charlie Rose: A Democrat.

 Sandra Day O'Connor: Yes. And he did not want me running. And that's when he then reached out and put me instead of a trial court judge, up on the Court of Appeals because he hoped then I wouldn't run.

 Charlie Rose: And he was right.

 Sandra Day O'Connor: He was right.

 Charlie Rose: You probably could have beaten him.

 Sandra Day O'Connor: Possibly.

 Charlie Rose: Would you rather have been a Supreme Court justice than say a Senator or a --

 Sandra Day O'Connor: Oh yes. Clearly, I mean that was an amazing experience to be on the Supreme Court.

 Charlie Rose: I know.

 Sandra Day O'Connor: To have those very challenging issues that you're part of deciding. And to be able to help craft opinions, that was a great, great privilege. It really was.

 Charlie Rose: I read you the last time I saw you, a quote from Justice Ginsberg who said when you left it was just different.

 Sandra Day O'Connor: Well I think when any of the nine leave it's different because we all participate in one way or another.

 Charlie Rose: Who are you closest to among the Justices other than Rehnquist?

 Sandra Day O'Connor: Yes I was close to him because I had known him forever.

 Charlie Rose: And he left and in fact --

 Sandra Day O'Connor: That's so hard to know. I didn't have another woman fo a while. I eventually got Judge Ginsberg and we saw eye to eye. We've had very similar experiences in law school.

 Charlie Rose: Yes but you got a different judicial philosophy didn't you?

 Sandra Day O'Connor: Well to a degree. I mean, we didn't differ that much on what principles to apply to cases.

 Charlie Rose: You really didn't?

 Sandra Day O'Connor: No.

 Charlie Rose: They why is your voting record different record from hers?

 Sandra Day O'Connor: Well because my conclusion might be different than hers, having applied some of these principles.

Charlie Rose: She's said to be a great friend of Justice Scalia.

Sandra Day O'Connor: I think she is, yes. That's good.

Charlie Rose: I mean that's -- the court makes strange bed fellows.

Sandra Day O'Connor: I know but just because your outcome in some given cases would be different it doesn't mean you can't be very close friends. You can and should be. And that the Supreme Court is so unusual because you might agree on one case and disagree on another and that's fine.

Charlie Rose: Did you ever think about being Chief Justice.

Sandra Day O'Connor: No.

Charlie Rose: Not once.

Sandra Day O'Connor: No I didn't.

Charlie Rose: Really?

Sandra Day O'Connor: No, I didn't think that was likely.

Charlie Rose: It wasn't likely but I mean --

Sandra Day O'Connor: Well but I just didn't -- that just didn't enter into --

Charlie Rose: You liked the life in Washington.

Sandra Day O'Connor: Well, i was OK.

Charlie Rose: And did John work as a lawyer there?

Sandra Day O'Connor: He did. He did. And he had a pretty good time but it wasn't the same as what he experienced in Arizona.

Charlie Rose: Can you talk about when he went to -- when he went into care and because of Alzheimer's and --

Sandra Day O'Connor: Oh it's so sad because you see them. And they don't always know you even.

Charlie Rose: Even you.

Sandra Day O'Connor: No. I mean he knew that I was someone he recognized but the notion that I was his wife I don't think penetrated. I'm not sure how much he would relate to the fact that there is such a person as a wife.

Charlie Rose: Yes.

Sandra Day O'Connor: You just don't know.

Charlie Rose: You must be devastated.

Sandra Day O'Connor: Oh it breaks your heart.

Charlie Rose: You see the person you know and love.

Sandra Day O'Connor: It breaks your heart. And he was so darling. And he had a funny sense of humor. And as sick as he was, as difficult as it was --

Charlie Rose: Yes.

Sandra Day O'Connor: -- until the very end he would try to make the nurses laugh or someone else laugh.

Charlie Rose: But it was also said --

Sandra Day O'Connor: Make a funny face or do something.

Charlie Rose: I'm not the first person to say this he developed a relationship with them, a friendship with another woman there.

Sandra Day O'Connor: Oh, yes sometimes. I mean but he would with anybody.

Charlie Rose: Yes. Did you ever think you would remarry?

Sandra Day O'Connor: Well, I didn't think about that.

Charlie Rose: Yes.

Sandra Day O'Connor: That hasn't come up. I haven't been asked.

Charlie Rose: Would you like to be?

Sandra Day O'Connor: No. No.

Charlie Rose: So are there unfinished objectives for you? Do you have goals that you still beyond iCivics, beyond writing books?

Sandra Day O'Connor: Well I have one more book I want to get out.

Charlie Rose: What's that?

Sandra Day O'Connor: Well I don't want to tell you because that would be premature but I have one more that I think maybe ought to be told.

Charlie Rose: About the court or about --

Sandra Day O'Connor: Well I'm just not going to say. There's one more book.

Charlie Rose: Is it about the way we select justices?

Sandra Day O'Connor: No. It isn't. And there's one more thing that I really want to see finished and that's my iCivics program.

Charlie Rose: Right.

Sandra Day O'Connor: I wanted to really educate young Americans, the middle schoolers about how our government works and I want to do it well. I want to make a difference and I think I can. It's happening.

Charlie Rose: And I think you have.

Sandra Day O'Connor: Oh well it's started anyway.

Charlie Rose: No just with your life you've made a difference. Thank you. I adore you.

Sandra Day O'Connor: Thank you. Thank you.

Charlie Rose: I do. Anybody who would give up her copy of the Constitution for me is a friend for life.

Sandra Day O'Connor: Well of course I would, all right. All right.

Charlie Rose: "Out of Order: Stories from the History of the Supreme Court", Sandra Day O'Connor. She is indeed one of the great women in American history.