The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
May 25, 2007

Remarks by the First Lady at the Sandra Day O'Connor Awards Luncheon
Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa
Phoenix, Arizona

12:04 P.M. MST

MRS. BUSH: Thank you very much, Justice O'Connor, for your very, very kind introduction. I'm honored to receive this award. Can you imagine anything more thrilling than to receive an award named for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor? (Applause.)

Most Americans know Justice O'Connor as the Arizona rancher's daughter who became an accomplished lawyer, a devoted mother, a senior state lawmaker, and a respected judge. President Bush and I are privileged to also know her as a very good friend.

We've always enjoyed our time with Justice O'Connor, from informal outings to social dinners to, most recently, just last week, the 400th anniversary of the Jamestown settlement in Virginia.

I remember one luncheon Sandra Day O'Connor invited me to back in 2001 when I was new in my job as a First Lady. She invited a group of friends to the Supreme Court for a lunch, and she gave us a wonderful tour of the Supreme Court building before lunch. And then when we sat down for lunch, we learned that she had cooked the entire lunch. (Laughter.) What I learned from that visit is that a seat on our nation's highest court is almost as coveted as a seat at Justice O'Connor's kitchen table. (Laughter.) Talk about a superwoman.

I admire Justice O'Connor for her work on behalf of women. From her days as the nation's first female state senate majority leader to her historic appointment to the Supreme Court, Justice O'Connor has opened doors for women who would follow her, and has served as a role model to women and girls across our country, and really around the world.

Her path was never easy. She completed high school at age 16. She graduated magna cum laude from Stanford's undergraduate program. She finished law school there in two years, serving on the Stanford Law Review, and as a member of the school's legal honors society. Justice O'Connor even graduated third in her class of 102 students. She did have some stiff competition: The first in the class that year was Chief Justice William Rehnquist. (Laughter.)

Still, no law firm wanted to hire a woman graduate. And only one firm offered Justice O'Connor a job -- as a legal secretary -- contingent, of course, on her typing ability. (Laughter.) Wisely, Justice O'Connor turned them down. Apparently she had better things in mind.

Since those days in the early '50s, opportunities for women have grown enormously, in part because of Justice O'Connor's pioneering efforts. Today, people and organizations across our country are working to secure equal justice and opportunities for women -- organizations like yours, the Arizona Foundation for Women.

Through your research program, the foundation educates policy makers, community leaders, and all Americans about the challenges facing Arizona's women. Through programs like the Walk to End Domestic Violence, the foundation helps abused women rebuild their lives with safety and dignity. And through initiatives like the foundation's scholarship program, you're helping Arizona girls realize the dream of a college education, and you're preparing our country's next generation of women leaders.

Thank you very much for your dedication to Arizona's women. (Applause.) Thank you for your dedication to Arizona's women. Thanks especially to Caryll Kyl, Victoria Glimcher, and Sarah Suggs Cheek for organizing this beautiful luncheon, which supports the foundation's work.

Congratulations to all of today's honorees, and thank you very, very much for this award. (Applause.)

END 12:09 P.M. MST

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