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Rehnquist once proposed to O’Connor, biographer says

Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, center, laughs while posing with other members for a portrait at the court in Washington, D.C., Nov. 10, 1994. Seated in the front row are, Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, left, and Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. (J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE / Associated Press)
Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, center, laughs while posing with other members for a portrait at the court in Washington, D.C., Nov. 10, 1994. Seated in the front row are, Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, left, and Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. (J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE / Associated Press)
Associated Press

WASHINGTON – A biographer has discovered the future chief justice of the United States once proposed marriage to the woman who would become the first woman to serve on the court.

NPR’s “Morning Edition” reports author Evan Thomas found William Rehnquist’s letter to Sandra Day O’Connor while researching his upcoming book, “First.” The two dated while students at Stanford Law School in the early 1950s. They had broken up but remained friends.

Rehnquist graduated and in a March 29 letter, wrote: “To be specific, Sandy, will you marry me this summer?” She said no.

She was dating another student, John O’Connor. They married in 1952.

O’Connor’s son Jay says he and his siblings were “surprised,” although they knew they had dated. He says they enjoyed a wonderful working relationship and friendship.

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