March Madness, Round 2 (3/17/2018): Michelle Obama v. Sandra Day O’Connor

The first match-up of Round 2 features Michelle Obama and Sandra Day O’Connor. 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!

Image via Wikipedia.

Michelle Obama-First African American First Lady of the United States-“One of the lessons that I grew up with was to always stay true to yourself and never let what somebody else says distract you from your goals. And so when I hear about negative and false attacks, I really don’t invest any energy in them, because I know who I am.”

Born in the South Side of Chicago, Illinois, Michelle was determined from a young age to be a good student, as her father had wanted for her. She attended Chicago’s first magnet school, despite the location being three hours one way from her home. Her hard work in school paid off as Michelle graduated salutatorian and went on to follow her older brother to Princeton University. While there, Michelle worked with the Third World center, an academic and cultural group for African American Students, and published a thesis about African American Princeton Graduates. After graduating cum laude, Michelle went on to earn her law degree from Harvard Law. She continued to advocate for minorities, including participating in demonstrations to fight for the hiring of minority professors.  As First Lady, she campaigned for minority rights, women’s rights and became a well-known advocate for education reform, spurring changes in all of those areas.

Image via Wikipedia.

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.”

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.

Disclaimer: 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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