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The Majesty of the Law: Reflections of a Supreme Court Justice
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The Majesty of the Law: Reflections of a Supreme Court Justice

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  391 ratings  ·  46 reviews
In this remarkable book, a national bestseller in hardcover, Sandra Day O’Connor explores the law, her life as a Supreme Court Justice, and how the Court has evolved and continues to function, grow, and change as an American institution. Tracing some of the origins of American law through history, people, ideas, and landmark cases, O’Connor sheds new light on the basics, e ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published April 13th 2004 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published December 20th 2002)
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Community Reviews

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Mollie Hayes
In September of 1981, history was made. President Ronald Reagan appointed the very first female Justice to the Supreme Court, Sandra Day O’Connor. As a young girl, O’Connor grew up on a cattle farm in El Paso, Texas. She grew into an intelligent woman, who attended Stanford University and Stanford Law School. After she graduated law school, she was denied an interview by dozens of law firms solely because she was a woman. She did, however, eventually find a job as a deputy country attorney and p ...more
Cameron
by far the best law book i've read. the former supreme court justice keeps things in perspective but at the same time reveals a profound and inspirational side of constitutional law (i didn't know there was one either...).
vorthys
Dry, dry, dry.
Colleen
On September 25, 1981 Sandra O' Connor became the first female Justice on the United States Supreme Court. Since then five presidents moved in and out of the White House, landmark cases stirred debate in the country. Federal judges, including justices of the Supreme Court, are appointed not for life but for 'good behavior. There has been only one impeachment trail of a Supreme Court Justice in America's history: the 1805 trial of Justice Samuel Chase. From 1790 until now, 112 have served as Just ...more
Mary Ellen
O'Connor writes with her usual clarity and simplicity, which makes her thoughts and theories very easy to follow. The prose is not especially moving, but Supreme Court Justices are chosen for the quality of their reasoning and not for their artistic or literary talents.

Lawyers, judges, and law grads will find large chunks of this book to be basic rehashes of things that were pounded into their skulls over three years of con law, civ pro, and so on. But it is still interesting to see what a Supre
...more
Jeanne
i liked the style od writing about many aspects of the law. easy to understand and it put a lot of current events in an historical context.
i loved the section on the womens movement. for me, coming of age in the late 60s, early 70s all seemed possible for a woman but there was still a lot of discrimination. this section of her book put a lot of things in perspective.
and this quote about the womens movement can apply to the middle east today...'dramatic change can occur only when memebers of a la
...more
Lily
Meh. Very basic and broad overview of our history and judicial system. There are a few chapters of short biographies of select justices. There is also a consistent stream of her thoughts on the women's movement, and the history stuff is nothing more than you'd find on a Wikipedia page. While I didn't hate the book, I was bored while reading it and I definitely don't recommend it. I would've appreciated more personal anecdotes of her time on the court. Ginsburg may have been the second woman on t ...more
Don Weidinger
Birth of a nation, Magna Carta, suspend writ of habeas corpus 38K enemies of north behind N lines, liberty and self confidence vs bondage of entitlement, Holmes eugenics, dissention valuable, avg overturn 1/2 acts per year vs FDR 12 in 1st term mult 5.27.35 then court stacking, 1869 women vote WY, then UT CO, the art of reason, incivility yields more suits, US is common law vs civil law, humility is most prized and difficult, justice delayed is justice denied, independent vigorous responsible fr ...more
Crystal Scurr
Wish I could speak with Justice O'Connor now and ask her about the fleecing of citizens by the TBTF banks with no prosecution of the fraud and the constitutionality of Obamacare. Exploring collectivism versus individualism would be a great conversation. Wonder too what she'd say about the press and elections we have now. I don't consider either of them "free".

Overall I found the book interesting at the many points discussing history and yet simplistic and idealistic for the vast majority of it.
...more
Sandy
I read this a while ago (can't remember exactly when) and it was a very readable primer on the Supreme Court and the legal system for me (who doesn't know bupkus about these things) as well as a glimpse into O'Connor's life. I remember when she was first appointed and what a big deal it was that a woman was appointed (I was in high school at the time). The DOMA/Prop 8 cases being argued before SCOTUS this week reminded me that I had read this book. I have a better understanding of how the cases ...more
Cab
I picked up this book when it first came out because of an interview that I saw with Sandra Day O'Connor. As a result, I was of the wrong impression that this book would be more about her specific experiences as a Supreme Court Justice and more specfically about being the 1st woman Justice. That being said:

This book was very well written and for the 1st time in my life I found "history" interesting. I especially enjoyed the later sections that dealt with the woman's movement and how that affecte
...more
Brandon
This book has no main thesis to it that I can tell. Rather, it's a series of thoughts by O'Connor on the rule of law and its importance historically and worldwide. Her arguments are clear, and her writing style is very accessible. I haven't read too many legal/law memoirs, but I'd hazard a guess and say that this is probably one of the more people-friendly ones available. Just to clarify, this is not Sandra Day O'Connor's biography. It's simply a number of reflections on the the Justice System a ...more
Linda Appelbaum
Really interesting to learn about the Supreme Court and some of the background in forming our legal system. surprising to realize women were still 2nd class citizens as recently as 35 - 40 years ago! Mrs. O'Conner talks about the legal system today and the best part of the book is near the end where she discusses what is wront with our jury system. This book should be ready by every lawyer and judge in the country....maybe our legal system would improve by leaps and bounds. Very enjoyable read!
Joan
One the criteria that I use to note a '5' is when there is something in a book that I remember long after I've finished reading the book.

In this one, there is a line in this book that I try to keep in mind when responding to the various questions that come up at work (and sometimes home) - when presenting your point of view/case/opinion/argument, you should try to maintain the sense that listeners want to agree with you, you just have to explain it well enough that they can.
Todd
I've admired Justice O'Connor over the past decade or so due to her centrist views on the court. This book not only gives a little insight into where her mind is in the legal realm, but also an incredible journey through the history of the court system in this country. It truly is amazing how it was created and the twists and turns not only the outcomes have been legally but the infrastructure itself.
Elizabeth
Although this book is quite broad, and I already knew a great deal of the information that this book contained, I still enjoyed it immensely. I am continually astounded by O'Connor's clear cut analysis of history and the impact of the Supreme Court, and her suggestions for progress in the judicial system and the whole of democracy in the United States. She is always someone worth reading.
Bruce
The Supreme Court I find fascinating and this book does a good job of explaining the oddities and rituals of the system. The book is fairly conservative without much analysis, critique, or intrigue. It's a fine book, just not that interesting. The discussion of international law and court systems in other countries was interesting and something I haven't read about much before.
elizabeth george
Nov 07, 2009 elizabeth george rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Yes
A great book by an extraordinary woman. I was a bit disappointed that there was very little information about her personally but it presented an enlighted view of the history of law in American. As a follow-up, i an reading "Supreme Courtship" by Christopher Buckley. It's good for me to mix it up a bit.
SKM311
this is a good quick read. justice o'connor gives a great overview of American constitutional history and the evolution of American's affinity with the rule of law. it also includes some wonderful stories about her career and time on the bench - something which is not often known to the american public.
Cecilia
Excellent, well-written historical look at the evolution and development of the supreme Court before and after Justice O’Connor’s placement on it. Her style is exactly the sensible, no nonsense prose you would expect from the moderate swing vote who is arguably the most influential member of the Court.
Doug Long
Another one I read in anticipation of my family's trip to DC. This one was a good primer for the Supreme Court and how it works. (Unfortunately we couldn't get in the tour of the Supreme Court and had terrible service in the cafeteria downstairs!) O'Connor writes with candor and even some humor.
Mark
On the whole, I thought this was a good read and I learnt a lot.

Given the subject matter and rather grandiose title, however, it was surprisingly light - you could even say lightweight - and surprisingly fragmentary in structure, with no real thread.
Sara
Jun 06, 2011 Sara marked it as to-read
The very beginning of this book was very interesting to me, but I am about half-way finished and now it is dulls-ville! Every time I pick it up, I fall right to sleep. I will try to finish it ... but other books are calling my name.
Eric Eickhoff
Aug 25, 2007 Eric Eickhoff rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Individuals interested in American History or Law
Can be a little dry at times but overall a good read. For those who have an interest in Sandra Day O'Connor it is well worth the time to read it as she gives great insight into the Court, Justices and the Law.
Robert Tell
A very readable review of the history and purpose of the Supreme Court and it's many Chief Justices. Basic civics but a good reminder of the special and unique judicial system i the U.S.
Jennifer
I liked learning about how the Supreme Court works and interacts with history and current life. It was a good book, well-written. It was a little dry on the whole, but well worth reading.
Amy
This was not an easy read, but worth reading to learn more about the history of the court. I did not know William Howard Taft became Supreme Court Justice AFTER he was President.
Kevin
Very comprehensive for such a concise book. Got a little dry at times, but gave great insight into roots and present state of the judicial system in America.
Kathy
A personal and clearly written look at the Court and some of the important people and decisions that have shaped it into its current posture.
Tamsen
I should have known when the guy at the bookstore told me not to buy the book. I got part way into it, and then I just could not take it anymore.
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Sandra Day O'Connor is an American jurist. She served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1981 until her retirement from the bench in 2006. The first woman to serve on the Supreme Court, she served as a crucial swing vote in some cases due to her case-by-case approach to jurisprudence and her somewhat moderate political views. However, during her time on the Cour ...more
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