The fact that there has been no drama whatever in the life of the first woman Supreme Court Justice is not an argument...



The fact that there has been no drama whatever in the life of the first woman Supreme Court Justice is not an argument against a biography; nor is the fact that--as Bentley (American Immigration Today) emphasizes--she is very much the product of her personal, social, and economic advantages. She had looks and brains, that is, and ""did everything well""; she came from an established Arizona ranch family, which encouraged her; she excelled at Stanford and Stanford Law; she married a fellow-law-student, who prospered at the Phoenix bar; she could manage to ""put her family first,"" without forgoing her career for long; she was a Republican community-leader when the booming state swung right-wad. Add in her growing conservatism in the course of her legislative and judicial service (""Certainly the political climate in Arizona did not favor the woman's movement"")--and, altogether, Sandra Day O'Connor is a difficult subject to make interesting or sympathetic. As a model of achievement, she has only superb organization and superior preparation to offer. As an achieving woman, she's too privileged, too perfect, and too little the boat-rocker. To an extent, Bentley's wherefores flatten the text (""Besides native intelligence, social graces, and encouraging parents, Sandra. . .""; ""by virtue of their family background, education, income, and home in a prime neighborhood, the O'Connors. . .""). On the other hand, she does try to particularize the givens--noting how O'Connor built her career by adapting to the limitations on women lawyers (moving into government service) and on a woman-lawyer with a family (soliciting part-time work, then proving her worth). She also reports O'Connor's legislatives and judicial performance evenly--""The Iron Judge,"" for instance, who wasn't unconcerned about the poor. (On the abortion issue, and O'Connor's general non-committal answers at her confirmation hearing, she's particularly forthcoming.) The not result, therefore, is illuminating--if hardly stirring.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1983


Page Count: -

Publisher: Messner

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1983

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