Sunday, November 13, 2016

Sisters in Law by Linda Hirshmann

This duel judicial biography of Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a mixed bag for me. The story provides some interesting details about the first two women on the Supreme Court, does an excellent job chronicling RBG's litigation strategy in important women's right cases, and provides some wonderful behind the scenes information about several key cases. My issue with the book is that Hirshmann seems intent on cheerleading rather than neutrally analyzing her subjects. She elides over many of O'Connor's conservative decisions and never grapples with some of the seeming contradictions of Ginsburg's life. For instance, the book notes that she was criticized by Orrin Hatch for promoting affirmative action but never having hired a minority law clerk during her Supreme Court hearings. This seems like an interesting thing to delve into; Hirshmann never does.

Not a bad duel biography, but it would have been better had Hirshmann been more willing to put her subjects under the microscope.

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