2009 - iCivics—and Beyond


Justice O’Connor retired from the Supreme Court in 2006, but she didn’t slow down. Her life had always had a tremendous sense of purpose—to make a difference for others—and she had done that through her work as a lawyer, as a legislator and as a judge. Now she found a new way to channel that purpose: She would show millions of American students that they, too, could create positive change by participating in their communities and government.

After consulting with educators, she arrived at a solution—digital games that teach civic education—and iCivics was born. Said Justice O’Connor, “Even a retired cowgirl like me knows that we need to use these tools if we are going to inspire and interest today’s young people.” The first iCivics game launched in 2009.

Today, it boasts 19 video games that teach students how government works by having them experience it directly. Through iCivics games, the player steps into any role—a judge, a member of Congress, a community activist fighting for local change, even the President of the United States—and has the chance to experience that job. Every year, millions of students play iCivics games, and the program continues to grow. Justice O'Connor often refers to iCivics as her most important legacy.

Justice O’Connor has received many honors over the years, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She was inducted into the Cowgirl Hall of Fame, and Arizona State University has the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. In 2015, Seneca Women gave her its first Innovation Award at a tribute ceremony attended by all three sitting female Supreme Court Justices: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.