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Former Supreme Court judge Sandra Day O'Connor says she was diagnosed in an open letter published on Tuesday as "the beginning stage of dementia, probably Alzheimer's disease".
Connor, 88, is the first high court female referee and has remained active since leaving in 2006. She left the yard to look after her husband John, who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Now, says O & Connor, the disease forces her to withdraw from public life.
Despite her condition, O & Connor said, "Nothing has diminished my gratitude and deep appreciation for the myriad blessings in my life."
In a letter published by the Office of the Supreme Court, O & Connor said she was diagnosed "some time ago."
"As this condition has progressed, I can no longer participate in public life," said O & Connor. "As many people have asked about my current status and activities, I want to be open about these changes and, while still able, share some personal thoughts."
In her letter, O'Connor then describes the importance of promoting the growth of American citizenship and engagement – a major goal of iCivics, the organization it had started following its withdrawal from the Bundesbank.
Respond to O & # 39; Connor's letter, Chief Justice John Roberts, wrote: "I was saddened to learn that Justice Sandra Day O & Connor, like many Americans, faces the challenge of dementia."
He added, "But I was not at all surprised by her. I took the opportunity to share this fact, first to think of our country and to demand an increased commitment to civics, a subject to which they talk so much Time and unwavering energy was dedicated. "
O & Connor" To call a tall tower "In the history of the United States," said Roberts, "it has barriers for women in the legal profession to improve this profession and the country Whole dismantled. "
The former justice, said Roberts," was a role model not only for girls and women, but for all those who strive for the same legal justice. He added, "No illness or condition can take away the inspiration it provides to those who follow the many paths it has led."
O'Connor was a judge at Arizona Appeals Court when she was nominated for the Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan in 1981 to fill the void of retired Justice Potter Stewart.
O & Connam described in 2013 what it was like to be the first woman on the Supreme Court, to NPR Terry Gross that she has "a special responsibility" to work on a level that would keep the door open for more women. Follow her.
O'Connor rose to the heights of the legal profession, having an additional hurdle after graduating from Stanford Law School: None of the more than 40 law firms she called would be with her speak because they are no women employed.
"And it was a real shock because I did a good job in law school and never came to my mind that I could not even get an interview," she said on Fresh Air .
Connor began her career as Deputy District Attorney in San Mateo, California, eventually settling in Maricopa County. Ariz., Where she and her husband founded a family.
Towards the end of her letter announcing her condition, O & Connor wrote:
"I will continue to live in Phoenix, Arizona, surrounded by dear friends and family, while the last chapter of my life may attempt dementia Nothing has diminished my gratitude and deep appreciation for the countless blessings in my life, how happy I am to be an American and to be endowed with the remarkable opportunities available to the citizens of our country as a young desert cowgirl Arizona I never imagined that one day I would become the first woman on the US Supreme Court. "
In 2009, O & # 39; Connor was awarded the highest civilian honor in the US by the President – the Presidential Medal of Freedom Barack Obama.