ABOUT THE BOOK
Linda Hirshman’s dual biography includes revealing stories of how these trailblazers fought for their own recognition in a male-dominated profession—battles that would ultimately benefit every American woman.
As the first and second women appointed to the Supreme Court, Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg forever changed society, both through the new legal framework of equality they helped construct and by the example they set as women of monumental achievement.
So different in so many ways—Republican/Democrat, Goldwater girl/liberal, daughter of a Western rancher/Brooklyn-born opera lover—the two women forged a remarkable, supportive friendship during their joint tenure on the highest court in the land. SISTERS IN LAW: How Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World tells the intertwined story of these two trailblazing women, from their very different childhoods to their journeys through a man’s world of law school and law practice, to the great influence they would wield in defining issues of modern feminism, including women in the military, abortion, affirmative action, and sexual harassment.
“Justices O’Connor and Ginsburg have a stunning history of achievement in a wide range of legal decisions,” Hirshman writes. “But SISTERS IN LAW tells the story of how together at the pinnacle of legal power they made women equal before the law. They argued for equality, they were the living manifestations of equality, and, because they took power before the revolution was over, they were in the unprecedented position of ordering equality…. All movements have heroes. Who get to the pantheon is often in dispute. But not in this case. Neither of them is perfect, of course, but Justices Ginsburg and O’Connor are the unambiguous heroines of the modern feminist movement. And everyone needs heroes.”
Hirshman had unprecedented access to key figures in the two justices’ lives and careers, from former academic and political colleagues to dozens of law clerks, all of whom have spoken freely. “Linda Hirshman has written a thorough, accurate, and most readable account of the careers of the two first women to serve as Justices of the Supreme Court,” says Justice John Paul Stevens. “Laymen as well as lawyers will learn a great deal, not only about these two special people, but about today’s Court as well.” SISTERS IN LAW “is fascinating and informative but is also joyful,” says Jeffrey Toobin, author of The Oath and The Nine, “a stirring reminder of how these two pioneers for women’s rights have advanced the cause in their singular but complementary ways.”
Even now that her story draws to a close, a crucial part of Justice O’Connor’s life legacy was to make way for Justice Ginsburg. When Justice O’Connor was nominated to be the First in 1981, she said, famously, that while she was First, she did not want to be the last. And she worked her hardest to be sure she was clearing a path for the next one.