Category Archives: Arizona & Local

Highlights from Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s Personal Library

Justice O’Connor’s interests were wide – the items received by the Ross-Blakley Law Library from the Justice’s personal library include joke books, photography volumes of the American West, historical texts, and fiction titles, among many other categories. Today we highlight a few books from the Justice’s collection that are in some way about one of the three branches of government.

Legislative branch
Before her nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice O’Connor served in a number of legal roles in the state of Arizona. One of those roles was as a state senator from 1969, when she was appointed by Governor Jack Williams to fill a vacant position, until 1974 when she was elected as a Maricopa County Superior Court judge. Some of the items that Justice O’Connor kept in her personal library from her time in the Arizona Legislature were the Senate Rules pamphlet (1973-1974), Rules of the House of Representatives pamphlet (1973-1974), Parliamentary Speaking: A Handbook for Legislators (helpfully sub-titled “WHEN to say it; WHAT to say; HOW to say it”), and the Directory of the 31st Legislature (1973-1974).

Executive branch
Justice O’Connor also owned an 1857 copy of the “Memoirs of Washington” by Mrs. Caroline. M. Kirkland. The book bears a beautiful inscription to the Justice noting her important place in American history. The Internet Archive has made a copy of this title available digitally here.

Judicial branch
Finally, a title with a focus on the judicial branch in Justice O’Connor’s collection was “A More Obedient Wife: A Novel of the Early Supreme Court” by Natalie Wexler. The author’s website states that the book “tells the story of two women in the 1790’s—each in a troubled marriage to a Supreme Court Justice—swept up in the little-known but fascinating early history of our nation’s premier judicial institution.” An inscription from the author states: “For Justice O’Connor, In grateful appreciate of your enthusiasm for this project.”

Highlights from Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s Personal Library

Last year the family of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor generously gifted the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and the Ross-Blakley Law Library with a significant collection of books from Justice O’Connor’s personal library and mementos from her long legal career. Many items from this gift will be added to the print collection of the Law Library and displayed in the College of Law’s fifth floor reading room in the year(s) to come; during that time we will be spotlighting some particularly interesting titles and items here on the blog.

Today we are showcasing two Arizona-specific titles, both gifted to Justice O’Connor in the 2000s. Arizona Sketchbook, published in 1952, was written by prominent Arizona businessman and political activist, Frank Cullen Brophy. The Arizona Historical Society provides some brief biographical information on Brophy and his family here.

Justice O’Connor’s copy of the Arizona Sketchbook, which features fifty historical sketches of Arizona landscapes and landmarks, includes a lovely inscription from Margaret McChesney, a granddaughter of the author. McChesney wrote:

To Justice Sandra Day O’Connor,
A true Arizona pioneer.
With greatest respect and
sincere appreciation for
your contribution to our
State and our country.

Arizona Nights, a 1907 book described by the publisher as “A series of spirited tales emphasizing some phase of the life of the ranch, plains and desert, and all, taken together, forming a single sharply-cut picture of life in the far Southwest,” predates Arizona statehood!

Justice O’Connor’s copy of the book includes a handwritten note on stationary with heartfelt details making it clear the gift was from a family friend who knew Justice O’Connor and her husband, John O’Connor, well. The author of the note states that “the illustrations…are terrific period pieces. I thought it might amuse you or your grandchildren to read about the impressions of Arizona in a bygone time.”

Stay tuned for future glimpses into Justice O’Connor’s personal library – we look forward to showing you more of the many wonderful titles she owned!

DACA Resource Guide

The Ross-Blakley Law Library’s DACA Resource Guide has been updated. It provides general information and links to resources about DACA – Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and is maintained by reference librarians at the ASU College of Law. The guide includes information on the history of DACA, recent DACA developments, ASU resources for students, a list of local agencies offering DACA assistance, and a list of national advocacy groups. You can view the guide by clicking on the link below.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) LibGuide

Celebrating Women’s History Month: Justice Ruth V. McGregor

Justice McGregorJustice Ruth Van Roekel McGregor was among the most successful students at Arizona State University’s College of Law in a time of significant gender disparity in the legal profession. She became a judicial star in her own right and supported the rise of one of the profession’s greatest trailblazing women.

In 1981, Justice McGregor became one of the first clerks for the Supreme Court justice who would become the College’s namesake, Sandra Day O’Connor. Although most law clerks are recent law school graduates and she had a lucrative career at the private law firm Fennemore Craig, Justice McGregor brought additional experience to support the first woman to serve on the nation’s highest court.

There, Justice McGregor galvanized her legacy of support for gender equality. One of the other Supreme Court clerks with whom she served, Deborah Jones Merritt, reflected in the Arizona State Law Journal that Justice McGregor worked on the influential case Mississippi University for Women v. Hogan. That case forced MUW to stop discriminating against men in its nursing program.

She would continue her life of public service, working her way through the Arizona court system to become Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court in her final term before her retirement in 2009. In addition to her service to Arizona jurisprudence, through her professional associations she served legal education and supported the advancement of women in the legal profession as a member of the Board of the National Association of Women Judges.

Justice McGregor’s legal career began to blossom at Arizona State’s law school, from which she graduated summa cum laude. There, she served as a second-year member and Senior Comment Editor for the journal Law and the Social Order, the predecessor to the Arizona State Law Journal.

As a student, she co-wrote a comment with Margaret Rhys Tinsley titled Juries and Jurors in Maricopa County, analyzing statistics to determine how well the Arizona county that includes Phoenix was adhering to the constitutional requirement that juries be representative of the community. The authors noted that women might have been overrepresented because they were less likely to be employed at that time. However, they concluded that despite clear underrepresentation of the young adults and older people as well as the economically and educationally disadvantaged that Maricopa County was largely fulfilling its obligation.

Justice McGregor went on to write several articles for law reviews and journals during her career, including a piece in the Syracuse Law Review analyzing whether the merit selection system of judge selection in states including Arizona adequately preserved judicial independence. She also explored the evolution of legal education toward a more outcome-based model and measured the educational benefits and drawbacks of the Socratic method and practical legal clinic work in the Phoenix Law Review. She also returned to the Arizona State Law Journal to provide updates on developments in Arizona constitutional jurisprudence, highlighting the judiciary’s ultimate goal of shaping a body of law that accurately and objectively interprets the state constitution.

She also wrote several pieces, including one published in the Harvard Law Review, praising her boss at the Supreme Court, Justice O’Connor, for her trailblazing and her support of the advancement of women in the legal profession. Justice McGregor hailed Justice O’Connor’s accessibility and her outreach to young girls to help them see their own potential. Through her work for the judiciary and legal education, Justice McGregor has provided a shining example of success and service in Arizona.

If you have an interest in examining the legal issues underlying topics such as gender equality and the court system, the reference librarians at ASU’s law library have research expertise to get you started. Meet with a Librarian to discuss your ideas in person or online.

Andrea Gass, Reference Librarian

Celebrating Women’s History Month: United States Sen. Kyrsten Sinema

Kyrsten_SinemaSandra Day O’Connor College of Law alumnae have blazed many new trails in the legal profession and the judiciary. Kyrsten Sinema broke new ground in the political realm, becoming the first woman to be elected to the United States Senate from Arizona.

Sen. Sinema is a 2004 juris doctor recipient, who previously earned a master’s degree in social work and subsequently earned an MBA and a Ph.D. in Justice Studies from Arizona State University. She is the first Democrat to represent Arizona in the U.S. Senate since Sen. Dennis DeConcini left office in 1995, and the first openly bisexual woman to serve in the chamber.

She maintains offices in Phoenix and Tucson as well as in Washington, D.C. Her official website indicates that she prioritizes safety, job creation, and veterans’ issues in Arizona.

Before serving in the Senate, she was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives three times, serving a district representing parts of the Phoenix area including surrounding communities such as Scottsdale and Tempe. Before that, she served in the Arizona Legislature, in the state House of Representatives from 2005 to 2011 and the state Senate from 2011 to 2012.

Sen. Sinema maintains strong ties to her alma mater, teaching classes on the intersections of law and social work and in public policy at Arizona State’s Watts College of Public Service & Community Solutions.

And she returned to ASU Law in 2019 to deliver a commencement address, emphasizing how much education helped her achieve after rising from her humble beginnings. She inspired the Class of 2019 to make their own impact with their law degrees.

Sen. Sinema was a staff writer an Associate Articles Editor for the Arizona State Law Journal from 2003-05. The Journal published her case note, Overton v. Bazzetta: How the Supreme Court Used Turner to Sound the Death Knell for Prisoner Rehabilitation, in its Spring 2004 issue. In it, she decried the Supreme Court’s decision as “unjust and unconstitutional,” and argues for a return to a standard of reviewing prison regulations that better preserves inmates’ rights, such as a limited freedom of association.

She has also published two books. Unite and Conquer: How to Build Coalitions That Win and Last (2009) charts a more cooperative path forward in politics, emphasizing the advantages of forging unlikely alliances over going negative on opponents and engaging in fear-mongering to win an election. Who Must Die in Rwanda’s Genocide? The State of Exception Realized (2015) discusses the political atmosphere and the underlying factors leading to devastating violence in the small African country. She points out that the near extermination of the Tutsi minority was possible because of extremists in government and popular approval of the genocide.

At the Ross-Blakely Law Library, reference librarians have the experience to help students interested in governance and election law contribute to the scholarship in their field. We can help you find the statutes, legislative histories, and proposals to help you explain and describe the state of the law, and chart your own suggestions for how to move forward. Click here to make an appointment.

Andrea Gass, Reference Librarian

Celebrating Women’s History Month: Professor Patty Ferguson-Bohnee

Patty FergusonProfessor Patty Ferguson-Bohnee is a clinical professor of law, the faculty director of the Indian Legal Program, and the director of the Indian Legal Clinic at ASU. She has become well known for empowering her students to make a difference in Native American communities. One of the most important ways has been expanding voting rights. As we celebrate Women’s History Month and one hundred years of women’s suffrage through the Nineteenth Amendment, the Professor notes that many women and men in tribes still face obstacles in America’s democracy.

Professor Ferguson-Bohnee, a recent recipient of the American Bar Association’s Spirit of Excellence Award, has been leading the Indian Legal Program at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law for several years. She notes that her field is particularly important in the state where she teaches.

“Arizona has twenty-two tribes that cover twenty-seven percent of its land. It’s important for anyone practicing law to be aware of it,” she says.

The Ross-Blakley Law Library has a sizable collection of resources for students interested in exploring Native American law and related fields. Our Indian Law library guide provides resources on tribal law, with particular emphasis on Arizona tribes, along with details on federal Indian law, treaties, and cultural resources. We also provide subject-specific guides on issues including Indian Gaming and Indian Energy. We also have an extensive print collection of Indian law resources located near the circulation desk on the third floor of the law school, near the Study Skills section.

With her encouragement, students have made significant impacts. Recently, law students Shayla Bowles and Rellani Ogumoro helped coastal tribes in Louisiana, along with a tribe in Alaska, file a complaint to persuade the United Nations to force action on climate change in the face of resistance to such efforts in the United States. They allege inaction on climate change has harmed coastal tribes who are seeing land disappear due to climate change, including failures to protect the tribes’ rights to life and adequate living standards, cultural heritage, self-determination, food security, and water security.

Her students have become increasingly involved in helping tribes and their members protect their rights. Many students have participated in Arizona Native Vote Election Project that Professor Ferguson-Bohnee started to help eliminate obstacles to voting and to uncover evidence of potential vote suppression. And her Native American Pipeline to Law Initiative has helped bring more interested in the field into law school and the legal profession. Students have also worked directly with local governments, encouraging Maricopa County officials to better protect tribal interests.

Professor Ferguson-Bohnee notes many research opportunities for students interested in exploring tribal law and federal Indian law. Indian gaming law and tribal self-governance law have been gaining additional support at the law school. Different tribal legal and social customs are ripe for scholarly attention, such as the culture of peacemaking that tribes such as the Navajo engage in to settle disputes without litigation, which could provide lessons for any students interested in alternative dispute resolution. Students may also wish to explore the science of implicit bias and its role in the marginalization of minority voices.

Professor Ferguson-Bohnee’s research has focused on Native American election law and environmental law issues. In a piece for the Arizona State Law Journal titled The History of Indian Voting Rights in Arizona: Overcoming Decades of Voter Suppression, she examined the history of obstacles that Arizona tribes have faced in making their voices heard, and proposed solutions to continuing difficulties. She has also examined the impact of a key piece of civil rights legislation in The Struggle for Equal Voting Rights: 45 Years of the Voting Rights Act, noting a sharp increase in minority voter registration and the impact the law has had on elections. In the environmental sphere, she sounded an alarm years before her students helped tribes bring action regarding disappearing coastal land in Louisiana in The Impacts of Coastal Erosion on Tribal Cultural Heritage. In it, she calls for vulnerable tribal historic sites to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places to help preserve them and for the federal government to do more to protect tribes it has so far failed to recognize.

If you’d like to help by researching the legal issues affecting Native American communities, please schedule an appointment with a librarian. We have the experience to help you find all you will need, including the most helpful information from familiar resources such as commercial legal databases as well as critical subject-specific information from resources less familiar to law students.

Andrea Gass, Reference Librarian

Celebrating Women’s History Month: The Honorable Justice Mary M. Schroeder

schroeder-mary.jpg__310x393_q85_crop_subsampling-2_upscaleIn celebration of Women’s History Month, the Ross-Blakley Law Library will have a recurring series of social media posts dedicated the women who helped shape the state of our legal system.

In this episode we will cover the Honorable Justice Mary M. Schroeder.  Justice Schroeder is currently a Senior Circuit Judge with her chambers in Phoenix, Arizona and ranks 4th in seniority of the 49 members of the 9th Circuit.  Justice Schroeder began her legal career when women attorneys (let alone judges) were a rarity in the United States and was among the Women Trailblazers who inspired a generation of women to begin their legal studies.

Both of Justice Schroeder’s parents were professors at the University of Pittsburg when they met.  The couple moved to Boulder, Colorado, got married, and Justice Schroeder was born in 1940.  Justice Schroeder recalls that, from an early age, she understood her mother to be a thoughtful feminist.  Her father was a bibliophile who owned “mountains of books” and she adored him.  Both of Justice Schroeder’s parents were experts in parliamentary procedure and they passed this love of order and the written word to their daughter.

Academic Excellence
Justice Schroeder received her B.A from Swarthmore College in 1962.  While at Swarthmore she received a Ford Foundation grant to go to Washington DC to study legislation.  This opportunity ignited a passion for law and politics, however, she knew that as a woman in 1962 she “could go nowhere in government without a law degree from a good school.”  Schroeder’s credentials could not be denied, she was accepted at the University of Chicago Law School.  Women in law were rare and the University of Chicago still had policies in place that made law school an even more challenging experience than it usually was: there was no housing for women on campus so Schroeder had to walk a mile and a half (in Chicago winters) to class. Women were not even allowed in the dining areas.  Schroeder became so sick  during her first semester that she collapsed on the eve of her final exams and a classmate had to lobby her professors for extensions.  Of the seven women accepted that year, two dropped out due to the grueling conditions.  Justice Schroeder persevered and graduated in 1965.

Legal Career
The job market for women in law was bleak when Justice Schroeder entered law school but she graduated the year after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, so government agencies were running to the top law schools to find high-achieving women candidates to fill their ranks.  In 1965 she accepted a job at the U.S. Department of Justice in the Civil Division as a trial attorney where she served until 1970 when she parted for a yearlong clerkship with Justice Jesse A. Udall of the Arizona Supreme Court.  After her clerkship she briefly entered the private sector in 1971 for the firm of Lewis and Roca in Phoenix, AZ – where she became a partner in only two years.

Justice Schroeder was elected to serve on the Arizona Court of Appeals, Division One from 1975-1979.  During that time, Justice Schroeder became Visiting Professor Schroeder here at Arizona State University College of Law where she taught Civil Procedure (1975), Appellate Advocacy (1976), and Discovery (1978).  ASU recognized Justice Schroeder with the Distinguished Achievement Award in 1977 and ASU continues to recognize her excellence with Mary M. Schroeder Public Interest Prize.

In 1979 she was nominated to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals by President Jimmy Carter.  She became the first woman to serve as Chief Justice of the 9th Circuit from December 2000-2007 and still serves on the 9th circuit as a Senior Circuit Judge.

Noteworthy Achievements
Justice Schroeder is a member of the prestigious American Law Institute (the organization that publishes the American Law Reports) where she has been a member of the ALI Council since 1993.  Justice Schroeder serves as advisor on the Principles of Government Ethics project and the Restatement Fourth, The Law of Consumer Contracts project. She is also on the Members Consultative Groups for the Restatement Fourth, Foreign Relations Law of the United States project and the Model Penal Code: Sentencing project.

She, like Justice O’Connor, has an impressive list of publications and awards that I will not attempt to summarize but you can see them on her ABA Profile from “Women Trailblazers.”

Other Resources
If you would like to see a breakdown of Justice Schroeder’s rulings on the 9th Circuit, you can see them by following this link with your Westlaw credentials.

The ABA has a wonderful series of oral transcripts with Justice Schroeder where she is interviewed long-form about her early life and distinguished legal career.

Sean Harrington, Electronic Resources Librarian

Justice in the Kitchen

Finals are over, students are enjoying break, and so I thought it would be a good time for a light-hearted blog post.  In this edition of the Ross-Blakley blog we are adventuring into territory that is not routinely covered by law libraries: gourmet cuisine.
Frog cover

Some Background
A small collection of personal artifacts from our namesake, Sandra Day O’Connor, was generously donated to the law school.  Part of that collection came to the Ross-Blakley law library so that we could display some of the books and artifacts in the law library.  Resident technical services wizard, Karen Scoville, discovered a treasure that I thought I would share.

The Cover of Justice in the Kitchen
This cookbook was created by the spouses of Arizona law students, attorneys, and judges.  However, it also features submissions from law faculty, deans, senators, and judges.  I do not have an exact date of publication but I estimate it to be late 1960’s (Barry Goldwater and Spiro Agnew references).

Besides having an adorable frog-judge on the cover, it’s got some recipes that are prototypical of that time period.  (Note: I have not been able to discover why they chose a frog but there are many frog drawings in the book – frogs with gavels, frogs wearing aprons, frogs with wigs, frogs playing sports, etc.)

Senator Barry Goldwater’s recipe for Black Walnut Stew:

Former ASU President G. Homer Durham provides the “recipe” for his favorite afternoon snack:
People in the 1960’s appreciated gelatin a lot more than we do.Apricot



















My personal favorite because it’s one of the few that I can cook with my limited abilities. 










If anyone has information about this that they would like to share, please feel free to email me at

Sean Harrington, Electronic Resources Librarian

Book Review – “First: Sandra Day O’Connor” by Evan Thomas

In First: Sandra Day O’Connor, hifirstoconnorstorian Evan Thomas describes how Ronald Reagan, who nominated Sandra Day O’Connor to the Supreme Court as the first female justice, characterized her as “a person for all seasons.” Thomas’ biography of O’Connor fleshes this description out, chronicling O’Connor’s childhood on an Arizona ranch, her time as a student at Stanford University and Stanford Law School (which included a marriage proposal from fellow student and future Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist), the years she worked as a legislator then as a judge in Arizona, and her groundbreaking role on the Supreme Court. First also provides intimate glimpses in to O’Connor’s private life, including her marriage with John O’Connor and her relationships with her fellow Justices (the civil but cold relationship with Justice Antonin Scalia is amusingly illustrated via the description of a tense doubles tennis match). The book also delves in to O’Connor’s anguish over her cancer diagnosis in the late 80’s and sorrow over the dementia diagnosis in 2018.

First is full of insightful entries from O’Connor’s journals, her late husband’s private memoirs, and excerpts from letters to family, friends, and colleagues. It also contains engaging interviews with O’Connor herself, as well as former classmates, romantic interests, colleagues, and law clerks. Through these unique and private materials we are shown a three-dimensional portrait of O’Connor.

Thomas has written a biography of O’Connor that is distinctive in material and scope. It is an engaging history of a singular woman. We highly recommend it.