by Judith Bentley ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 1, 1983
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: -
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1983
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