March Madness (3/2/18)-Sandra Day O’Connor v. Arabella Mansfield

Today’s match-up is between Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman Supreme Court Justice and Arabella Mansfield,  America’s first female lawyer. This is a match-up of firsts! Which woman inspires you the most? You can vote by participating in our daily Twitter or Facebook poll, or by casting a vote at the Circulation Desk.  Happy voting!

Sandra Day O’Connor-“Despite the encouraging and wonderful gains and the changes for women which have occurred in my lifetime, there is still room to advance and to promote correction of the remaining deficiencies and imbalances.”

Image via Wikipedia.

Born in El Paso, Texas, Justice O’Connor grew up on a ranch in Arizona and attended private school back in El Paso. Justice O’Connor attended Stanford University Law where she served on the Law Review journal there. She chose to travel with her husband when he was drafted in WWII and served as a civilian attorney for the Army’s Quartermaster Corps. After returning to the U.S, she settled in Arizona where she served as Assistant Attorney General. Eventually, she ran for the Arizona State Senate and in 1973 was the first woman to be any state’s Majority leader. She received notification the day before the public announcement that she was going to be nominated by President Reagan to the Supreme Court, though she hadn’t known she was even a finalist for the position at the time. Justice O’Connor eventually became known as a swing vote in many historic cases, including the famous Roe v. Wade, where regardless of her moral opposition to abortion, Justice O’Connor refused to overturn the case that allowed women the right to choose.

Arabella Mansfield-“The theory of this Government from the beginning has been perfect equality to all the people.”

Image via Wikipedia.

Born the second child of a farmer, Arabella was admitted into Iowa Wesleyan University in 1862 and graduated in 1866 as valedictorian. Due to men leaving for the Civil War, Arabella became one of America’s first woman college professors before studying for two years at her brother’s law firm as an apprentice. She took the bar in Iowa and was admitted into the Iowa bar in 1869 despite Iowa’s statutes saying that only white males could be admitted. Soon after, Iowa changed its statutes and was the first state to allow women to practice law.

This is a friendly competition that is meant to increase awareness about some amazing women. The match ups were determined by a random outcome generator, and the winner will be determined based solely on the votes submitted by the participants. We are in no way seeking to pit one woman against each other in any inappropriate way, because each woman is inspiring in her own right. 

Author: Alyson Drake

Alyson Drake is the Assistant Director for Public Services and the Director of the Excellence in Legal Research Program at Texas Tech University Law School, where she also teaches courses in Texas Legal Research, and Foreign, Comparative, and International Legal Research and administers the Legal Practice Program's research workshops. She blogs at

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