Monday, June 03, 2019

SISTERS IN LAW


Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

Sisters In Law, Linda Hirshman, HarperCollins, 2015, 301 pp
 
This nonfiction reading group pick is subtitled How Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went To The Supreme Court And Changed The World. It was a hard book to read for me because all I know about law and courts I learned from watching Perry Mason as a kid and reading thrillers. While the story of the first two women to serve as Justices of the Supreme Court is exciting stuff, I had some trouble following all the cases.
 
However, some years ago I tried to read The Nine by Jeffrey Toobin and was defeated. Linda Hirshman managed to crack the code for me and I appreciate that a great deal. Now I understand how that court works.

I knew more about RBG, having seen both the 2018 documentary RBG as well as the 2018 movie On The Basis Of Sex. I knew virtually nothing about Sandra Day O'Connor except that she was the first (FWOTSC) and served as a swing vote between the conservative and liberal justices. This book goes into great detail about each woman and the friendship between them. They were quite different in some ways.

What I enjoyed most was learning about the clear intention of RBG to change conditions for women in a deliberate sequence of cases designed to change precedents. Compared to many other things in life, her method is slow. It takes years and decades. Her belief is that if you want to change society you must change the laws. She has done that!

I am very glad I read this book. While the fight for equality is a long slog and while the ingrained, unexamined prejudices about women held by men makes me spitting angry, I could see how her method has worked. I felt some hope. Also we now have three women on the court: RBG, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Another curious fact is that all nine justices are either Catholic or Jewish.

Now all of her work is at risk. With the conservatives in the majority on the court, much of what she has done in setting precedents at least makes it more difficult for those conservatives to send us backward. I have begun keeping track of the cases heard through a great website, https://constitutioncenter.org/blog.

Our reading group discussion was wonderful. We are all liberals, several work in the legal world and we are all women, of course!

22 comments:

  1. Great review. I think that I would get s lot out of this book. As I think you know, I am fascinated by political and social issues. It is indeed depressing where the conservatives may be taking the court and all of America.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Brian, I think you would love this book. Very political, all about social issues and quite humanist.

      Delete
  2. Yeah Mitch McConnell is trying to pack the court with conservatives. These are dangerous times. Thx for the website link you mention. I will check it out. I have a copy of this book from the library but I think I'll need more time with it. I'm curious about their friendship ...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know. It took me a while to read. I made myself do 60 pages a day and then took breathers with other lighter stuff. Worth it for sure!

      Delete
  3. I've also read about RBG but don't know much about O'Connor. I'll keep an eye out for this one. Cheers

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good! It is an eye-opener. Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  4. This sounds like a hard hitting read! It's not always easy to give your opinion and stand up for what you believe in this day in time. Great review!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. How right you are, Carrie.

      Delete
  5. Two ground-breaking pioneers that we can be proud of. I often think about how utterly depressing and frustrating it must be for Ginsburg to work in the court as now constituted. And yet she persists and thank God for that!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I learned in the book that RBG does get frustrated but somehow she never gets depressed. She just keeps on keeping on. In fact, on that Constitution blog I mentioned her opinion (or whatever it's called, I already forgot everything I learned in the book; not really but oh my the terminology of law has always caused me trouble) was partially quoted regarding the most recent case. Yes, we are so fortunate to have her plus two more women!

      Delete
  6. i ought to read this; maybe it would contribute to drawing my negative attitude about present day america out enough to let in some light... (hope it's okay if i comment sometimes... ck puts up with it, but i wouldn't want to intrude on others...)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. mudpuddle! So nice to have you stop by. It is totally okay if you comment sometimes. I live for comments! Hope it's okay if I visit you. Yes, the book does let in some light, though of course, since it was published other bad things have happened. I don't actually count on any government or politician for much but it is always good to read about someone who does it intelligently.

      Delete
    2. i'd be delighted; my blog is mudpuddle soup on wordpress... some bloggers have had difficulty finding it, tho... but i'm pretty sure it's there... somewhere... haha

      Delete
    3. I found, I visited, I commented.

      Delete
  7. I learned a lot from this book, too, and thought it was very well done. Watching the RBG documentary, I noticed a copy of the book on RBG's desk and tweeted that to the author. Of course she'd already noticed ;-)

    Susan (thecuecard) might want to add in the audio and make this a read/listen combination. It sure helped me! I took that approach with The Nine, too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh wow, I did not notice that copy of Sisters In Law on RBG's desk in the documentary! Maybe I will give The Nine another try.

      Delete
  8. I thought the RBG documentary was pretty enlightening regarding the cases she took to set legal precedents; I took pages of notes. Of course, this book makes a wonderful companion. I'm glad you found it worth your while despite all the legal mumbling. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, they go together so well. Thanks to Linda Hirshman I feel like I finally got at least familiar with the process, not because she wrote a lightweight book but because she made it interesting enough for me to put in the mental work.

      Delete
  9. I've been wanting to read more about both RBG and Sandra Day O'connor, so this may be the book for me to read.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can for sure learn lots about them both in it!

      Delete
  10. This sounds like a good book, especially for younger women who cannot be reminded often enough about the fights that were faught for them.

    Thanks for the review.

    ReplyDelete