Sandra Day O’Connor, who made history on Sept. 21, 1981, by becoming the first woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, is out with a new book titled “Out of Order.”
The book, according to Amazon’s description, is a collection of stories written by Justice O’Connor wherein she recounts “the history and evolution of the highest court in the land.”
But unlike her time as a Supreme Court justice, “Out of Order,” according to the New York Times’ Adam Liptak’s review, is both insignificant and forgettable.
Here are the five harshest criticisms of Justice O’Connor’s new book [all block quotes via NYT]:
5. “Disorganized & Meandering”
She has a lot to say. But, the provocative title of her new book notwithstanding, she is not saying it here. Instead, she has delivered a disjointed collection of anodyne anecdotes and bar-association bromides about the history of the Supreme Court. “Out of Order” is a gift shop bauble, and its title might as well refer to how disorganized and meandering it is.
4. “Skimpy Effort”
The book is short and padded. The main part, only 165 pages long, is interrupted by stock photographs and curious, unexplained editorial cartoons. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are included in an appendix. They are surely worth rereading from time to time, but their main purpose here seems to be to add some bulk to a very skimpy effort.
3. Fond of stock phrases & Repetition
O’Connor is fond of the stock phrase and profligate with the exclamation point. She will tell you the same story twice. And she will recount a joke but withhold its meaning. We hear that the court works “in an atmosphere insulated as far as possible from political pressures” and then, some 60 pages later, that it works “in an atmosphere insulated, as far as possible, from political pressures.” Same phrase — but now with commas. We are told three times that Justice John Rutledge resigned from the Supreme Court in order to become Chief Justice of South Carolina.
2. Disjointed Storytelling
On Page 26, Justice O’Connor lists the original members of the Supreme Court, noting that Robert Hanson Harrison “resigned soon after his confirmation as an associate justice to become chancellor of Maryland, an important judicial post.” She repeats the list on Page 52, but now “Justice Harrison resigned for health reasons before the first session even took place!”
The larger problem is not that Justice O’Connor’s little sketches and lessons are wrong. Quite the contrary. The problem is that they are empty. She writes, correctly, that “the court’s only weapon is its moral authority.” But she refuses to give this and similar sentiments substance.
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(H/T: BI). Featured image Getty Images.