By Justice Sandra Day O'Connor

Press conference after announcement of nomination to Supreme Court

July 7, 1981

Type: Interview
Source: As recorded by the Associated Press, Phoenix, AZ


Judge O'Connor Remarks

Good morning. This is a momentous day in my life and the life of my family and I'm extremely happy and honored to have been nominated by President Reagan for a position on the United States Supreme Court. If I am confirmed in the United States Senate I will do my best to serve the Court and this nation in a manner that will bring credit to the President, to my family and to all the people of this great nation.

Q. (Unintelligible.) A. We haven't even thought about questions like that pending the confirmation hearing. Q. When did you find out President Reagan would nominate you? A. He called me yesterday afternoon, about 4 o'clock our time and spoke with me at that time.

Q. Had you considered you were a serious contender for the post? A. I assumed that I was because I was interviewed late last week in Washington. Q. By the President? A. Yes.

Q. What kind of questions did the President ask? A. I'm not at liberty to disclose the contents of the conversation and you can check with the White House on that. Q. How long did the conversation last? A. Not very long. I'd say no longer than 15 minutes.

Q. Did you speak with Senator Goldwater, Senator DeConcini, Congressman Rhodes? Have they had the opportunity to speak to you this morning?

A. Not yet. Senator DeConcini's office got through, but my line has been very busy this morning. I think it's been hard for people to get through. Position of Congressmen

Q. Has our state's Congressional delegation been unanimous in endorsing your nomination? A. As far as I know they have. I've had, of course, calls from Senator Goldwater and from Representative John Rhodes previously, indicating support.

Q. Judge O'Connor, Mr. Reagan said this morning that you would have your chance, so to speak, to leave your tracks in the sands of time. When you assume your post, assuming that you do, what kind of changes do you think you might bring about to the Supreme Court? Do you have any thoughts on that at this point?

A. I don't think that's anything (unintelligible). Q. How do you view yourself as a legal, as far as the law's concerned? Your legal approach? A. I simply try to do as good a job as I can with each question as it arises. A Philosophical Label

Q. Would you put a label on yourself - moderate or constructionist? A. No, I can't do that. Q. You've been attacked by the right-to-life people for your stand on abortion. How would you characterize your position on that issue? A. I'm sorry, I can't address myself to substantive questions pending the confirmation hearing. Q. What were your thoughts when you first realized that you were being considered, you might be the first woman on the Supreme Court? A. Well I was greatly honored by the suggestion but never thought it would be a reality. Q. Do you consider lack of Federal court experience on the appeals or on the district court level a negative factor in your appointment? Is that going to be a difficulty you're going to have to overcome?

A. I can't see that. Certainly I've not had Federal experience and time will tell whether that means I have a lot more to learn than I otherwise would. Rejection of Questions

Q. Why can you not address substantive questions? A. Pending the confirmation hearing I'm not able to do that. Q. You have been asked not to? I don't understand. Is it something you're just not allowed to do? By whom? A. Well I simply am not going to address myself to substantive issues pending the confirmation hearing.

Q. (unintelligible) because you're the first woman? A. Well, I hope not. Q. Would you reflect on that aspect of it - being the first woman? What that means to you. What you think it means to the judicial system.

A. I don't know that I can. In approaching the work on the bench, I can only say that I will approach it with care and effort and do the best job that I possibly can do and I've always tried to do that with any position that I've held.

Q. Does your experience in the state legislature have any impact on your thinking as a judge? A. Undoubtedly it does. All of our experiences reflect in some way in what we are and I have an appreciation for the legislative process because I have been part of that process.

Q. Your husband has a very active law practice here in Phoenix. Have you thought about how you will (unintelligible)? A. We haven't thought about all those questions pending a confirmation hearing. Thank you.