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LADY JUSTICE by Dahlia Lithwick Kirkus Star


Women, the Law, and the Battle To Save America

by Dahlia Lithwick

Pub Date: Sept. 20th, 2022
ISBN: 978-0-525-56138-5
Publisher: Penguin Press

The senior legal correspondent for Slate looks at the responses of women lawyers to the Trump era.

“Something extraordinary happens when female anger and lawyering meet,” writes Lithwick, who begins with oral arguments in the 2016 case Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt before three female justices. She closes, of course, with the June 24, 2022, decision in Dobbs v. Jackson’s Women’s Health Organization. In the author’s telling, that span represents not only the nation’s six-year slide into an abyss, but also a time when women lawyers mounted dogged, directed resistance. Between starry-eyed opening and grim conclusion, she profiles women lawyers whose stories provide a contextualizing capsule tour of the era and offer some bracing hope. Readers will reconnect with Sally Yates, the acting attorney general who almost immediately found herself standing up to her new boss when he executed his first travel ban, and learn that the Democrats’ success in Georgia in 2020 and 2021 was mostly due to Stacey Abrams’ methodical, 10-year plan to mobilize Georgia’s Democratic vote. We also meet Nina Perales of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, who successfully litigated against adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census; and the ACLU’s Brigitte Amiri, who defended the right of a pregnant 17-year-old refugee in U.S. custody to get an abortion—ultimately winning a case in which then–Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s preliminary opinion arguably paved his way to the Supreme Court. In this same profile, the author reveals that the same Office of Refugee Resettlement apparatchik who directed his staff to stop keeping track of the children separated from their families at the border also scrupulously maintained his own records of the menstrual cycles of the girls in custody. Though the text is necessarily bristling with names of court cases, Lithwick’s writing is friendly to lay readers and marked by her trademark pithy wit and an endearing faith in the promise of the legal system. “Women plus law equals magic,” she concludes.

Required reading for this post-Dobbs world.