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Sandra Day O'Connor
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Sandra Day O’Connor announces likely Alzheimer’s diagnosis

This April 15, 2015 photo released by Seneca Women shows Justice Sandra Day O'Connor at the Seneca Women Global Leadership Forum at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington. O'Connor, the first woman on the Supreme Court, announced Tuesday that she has the beginning stages of dementia, “probably Alzheimer’s disease.” (Kevin Wolf/Seneca Women via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) – Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman on the Supreme Court, says she has the beginning stages of dementia and “probably Alzheimer’s disease.”

O’Connor made the announcement in a letter Tuesday. She said that her diagnosis was made “some time ago” and that as her condition has progressed she is “no longer able to participate in public life.”

O’Connor, 88, was nominated by President Ronald Reagan and took her seat on the court in 1981. She announced her retirement in 2005.

O’Connor’s announcement came a day after a story by The Associated Press that she had stepped back from public life.