Sandra Day O'Connor,
associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, stunned the nation in July when she announced her retirement. O'Connor, who was the Court's first woman justice, was appointed by President Reagan in 1981 and served 24 terms. She was often a swing vote on such controversial issues as abortion, affirmative action, and the separation of church and state. O'Connor was widely considered the most powerful member of the Court, and her announcement sparked an intense partisan battle over the Court's future.