Sandra Day O’Connor’s Lessons in Leadership

Before voting on cases in their weekly conference, the nine justices of the Supreme Court shake hands. At her first conference, in October 1981, Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman appointed to the Court, offered her hand to Justice Byron “Whizzer” White. The former All-Pro halfback squeezed it so hard that tears “squirted” from her eyes, she later recalled. But O’Connor was never intimidated by White. She knew that her fellow justice, easily bored and hypercompetitive, liked to putt golf balls on the rug in his chambers, so when she wanted to win his vote, she would wander down the hall to challenge him to a putting…


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