ATLANTA - An Emory Law Professor says he remembers the time he spent working with the first woman to serve as a Supreme Court Justice.
Sandra Day O'Connor died Friday at the age of 93 due to complications from dementia and a respiratory illness.
"She had had Alzheimer's and dementia for a long time and so it's very sad when someone that you like and admire goes through that," Alexander Volokh said.
Volokh clerked for O'Connor between 2005 and 2006, right before she retired.
UNITED STATES - JULY 25: Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day OConnor testifies during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on "Ensuring Judicial Independence Through Civics Education" on Wednesday, July 25, 2012. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Ca (Getty Images)
"She had a very unique personality. It was very grandmotherly to everybody, but at the same time, took her job as judge very seriously," he explained.
O'Connor was the first woman on the Supreme Court appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1981. During that time, she was the deciding vote on many critical issues throughout the country. Many people called her the most influential woman in the United States.
"She really embodied a vision of moderate conservatism which is what she was known for. She was really in the center of the court for a lot of her tenure," Volokh said.
Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor
"She really was the architect of the Supreme Court's moderate position on abortion, moderate position on affirmative action, moderate position on religious displays in public spaces. Many of those moderate positions now have been overruled," he added.
But Volokh said the current court has continued to uphold some of her beliefs.
"She came to the Supreme Court with a very strong view in favor of federalism, the idea that congress could not just order the states around to do whatever," he explained.
"And that has stuck around just because that was more of a conservative position and the court is more conservative now than it was at the time," he said.