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Entries in Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (1)

Tuesday
Oct262010

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O'Connor on Life and the Supreme Court

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(LONG BEACH, Calif.) -- Some of the most influential women in the nation shared their life experiences and tried to find new ways to tackle the world's problems Tuesday while speaking at a gathering of some 30,000 people in Long Beach, Calif.

Women -- and some men -- from politics, the press, entertainment, and everything in between appeared for the annual Women's Conference, hosted by California First Lady Maria Shriver and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

On stage during the conference, ABC's Diane Sawyer interviewed two trailblazers: Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman to serve as a Supreme Court justice, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who joined O'Connor on the court twelve years later. With the appointments of Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, four women have now served on the court, with three currently on the bench.

"I've got to tell you, I went to the Supreme Court recently...I sat in on an argument, and I looked up at the bench on which I sat for 25 years, and what did I see?" O'Connor said. "I saw on the far right, a woman. On the far left side, a woman. And here in the middle, a woman. And it was dazzling."

The justices told Sawyer not only about their experiences on the high court but also of their early struggles in the workplace and the challenge of raising families while pursuing their careers.

"The world was so different. I was at Harvard Law School for my first two years. There were two buildings with classrooms. Only one of them had a women's bathroom," Ginsburg said.

Maria Shriver also spoke before the crowd, talking about her own experiences and the challenges of being a woman in the public eye.

"I'd like to admit today I was wrong to try to talk Arnold out of running for governor seven years ago," Shriver said. "The last seven years have taught me that, in fact, it can be the beginning of a journey that forges a stronger, wiser, more confident you."

Back on the Supreme Court panel, Justices O'Connor and Ginsburg also spoke about their belief in the unique role of women in modern life.

"Do you really think at the Supreme Court, where reason prevails, that women bring something unique?" Sawyer asked.

"Well, I think in most hard legal issues, a wise old woman and a wise old man are going to reach the same conclusion," O'Connor said. "But there are cases where our experience as women might bring some perspective to the situation before the court."

"I think that our conversation is more informed because all together, we've had such a wealth of experience," Ginsburg said. "Much better than the day when all of the people on the court looked alike."

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ABC News Radio