Justice Sandra Day O’Connor has announced that she will be retiring from the Supreme Court before its new term in October. Her vacancy from the highest court under U.S. law will be the first during George W. Bush’s (R) presidency. O’Connor was the first woman ever appointed to the Supreme Court and was nominated by President Ronald Reagan (R) in 1981.

O’Connor, while generally siding with the conservative wing of the court, is considered a moderate and has sided with the liberal wing at times. She has often been a ‘swing vote’ at the center-right of conflicting judicial ideologies.

President Bush has not yet announced an appointment to fill the upcoming court vacancy, however he is likely to face stiff opposition from the Democratic minority in the Senate. Under the U.S. Constitution, presidents must appoint members of the federal judiciary and Supreme Court with the advice and consent of the Senate. Minority parties in the Senate have increasingly used the filibuster to interrupt that process.