Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court, dies

The former judge suffered from advanced dementia and a respiratory illness. She was 93 years old.

The first woman to serve on the Supreme Court, Sandra Day O'Connor, has died at the age of 93 in Phoenix (Arizona) after her health worsened in recent days. The court issued a statement on its website confirming the news.

The former judge suffered from "advanced dementia, probably Alzheimer's, and a respiratory illness," the Supreme Court said. She served on the court for 24 years, starting in 1981, when she was nominated by former President Ronald Reagan. She retired in 2006.

John Roberts, president of the Supreme Court, praised O'Connor and her contribution to Justice:

A daughter of the American Southwest, Sandra Day O'Connor blazed a historic trail as our country's first female judge. She met that challenge with undaunted determination, indisputable ability and engaging candor. We at the Supreme Court mourn the loss of a dear colleague, a fiercely independent defender of the rule of law, and an eloquent advocate for civics education. And we celebrate her enduring legacy as a true public servant and patriot.