In Focus: O’Connor Sons

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Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was one of the most influential women in American history. The first woman nominated to the Supreme Court, O’Connor oversaw some of the High Court’s most important decisions. Now, she has stepped away from public life after a diagnosis of dementia. Ted Simons sits down with her sons, Brian and Scott, to talk about their mother, her influence on them, what it was like having such an important figure as a mother, and how she is doing now.

While growing up with one of the most influential judges in history, the boys didn’t realize she was “that different” until they were early on into their adulthood.

The first clue he got, Scott says, is when his mother called him home from winter vacation because she was getting pressed by the republican party to run for governor.

O’Connor grew up on a ranch where the closest town was 30 miles away. She was 10 years older than her closest sibling in age, which meant that she had to create her own fun, something that she instilled in her sons from an early age.

Scott says their mother never tried to make the boys follow in her footsteps, but kept their lives very organized and made sure that the boys were doing something productive and useful.

While their parents were away camping, the kids would often go up to South Mountain with a friend and pitch a tent, light a fire, and grill burgers.

In Phoenix their parents had a very active social life, after moving to Washington, they didn’t want to leave that behind and become homebodies. They were active at country clubs and went to many social gatherings that included some of the most powerful people in the country.

The access and connections that the boys had while in Washington granted them opportunities that they otherwise wouldn’t have had, but still retain that they had a relatively normal childhood.

When Sandra Day O’Connor stepped down from the supreme court in 2006, the boys say that it didn’t come as a surprise to them, “It just was what it was. Ultimately it was her decision.”

 

Brian O'Connor, Scott O'Connor

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