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!