Sandra Day O'Connor, on her first day of work as a Supreme Court justice today (Sept. 28), will be the only woman ever to attend one of the justices' most secret of conferences. The historic event takes place when the Supreme Court, for 191 years exclusively male, meets in its conference room to begin discussing more than 1,000 petitions seeking court review. Only justices are allowed at the meetings.
The conference will be held in the same oak-paneled room in which the former Arizona appeals court judge took one of two oaths of office Friday from Chief Justice Warren E. Burger.
Mrs. O'Connor has only a week to prepare for the official start of the court's new term. Faced with the heavy caseload, she could decide to devote much of her judicial energies to a few cases in order to strongly influence their outcome.
As the first woman justice, she could take an interest in several important sex discrimination cases on the court's docket.Since potentially important criminal cases are constantly before the high court, her conservative learnings could alter somewhat the court's direction in settling such controversies.