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Out of Order: Stories from the History of the Supreme Court
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Out of Order: Stories from the History of the Supreme Court

3.17  ·  Rating details ·  1,344 ratings  ·  314 reviews
“I called this book Out of Order because it reflects my goal, which is to share a different side of the Supreme Court. Most people know the Court only as it exists between bangs of the gavel, when the Court comes to order to hear arguments or give opinions. But the stories of the Court and the Justices that come from the ‘out of order’ moments add to the richness of the Co ...more
ebook, 256 pages
Published March 5th 2013 by Random House
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 ·  1,344 ratings  ·  314 reviews

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Jul 13, 2018 rated it liked it

3.5 stars

This isn't a scholarly treatise on the Supreme Court, nor is it Sandra Day O'Connor's memoirs about her years as a justice. So If you're looking for a serious book along those lines, this isn't it. However, if you want a quick overview of the court's history, illuminated by interesting (and entertaining) anecdotes, this is the book for you.

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor

To be fair, O'Connor does briefly mention a few groundbreaking historical cases, such as Marbury vs. Madison (1803) - w
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
I hardly ever read books by people who are primarily known for something other than writing them, and this is a good example of why not.

The blurb makes this book sound fascinating, at least, if you have any interest in the Supreme Court. "With unparalleled insight and her unique perspective as a history-making figure, Justice O'Connor takes us on a personal exploration.... We get a rare glimpse into the Supreme Court's inner workings: how cases are chosen for hearing; the personal relationships
Mar 04, 2013 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Kurt by: Amazon Vine
I was excited to read this book when the Amazon Vine program offered me a free copy, but it turned out to be pretty terrible. The book promises a behind-the-scenes look at the Supreme Court, written by the first female Justice and someone who was a major factor in some incredibly controversial decisions for twenty-five years, but none of that really hits the pages. At one point, Justice O'Connor mentions that when she's invited to give a speech, she prefers to stick to history because that won't ...more
Aug 22, 2013 rated it did not like it
I have seen Justice O'Connor speak on several occasions and was extremely impressed each time. She comes across as witty, interesting, and incredibly smart.

I was, therefore, stunned at how dull and boring I found "Out of Order." This volume attempts to describe interesting and amusing episodes from the history of the US Supreme Court and the lives of its Justices. However, had I tried, I do not think I could have selected less interesting vignettes than those chosen by O'Connor. For instance, a
Mar 05, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, law
Out of Order: Stories from the History of the Supreme Court by Sandra Day O'Connor

"Out of Order" is a brief history of anecdotes from the Supreme Court. Sandra Day O'Connor provides a mildly insightful and readable book but overall it's disappointing. The book fails to take advantage of the unique insights that a pioneer of O'Connor's caliber would have had. It's a book that quite frankly could have been written by almost any historian. It was a missed opportunity, it should have provided reader
Jim B
Feb 13, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, history
Retired Supreme Court Justice O'Connor read her own book in her distinctive voice. Filled with anecdotes and history of our nation's highest court, the book contained a treasure-trove of interesting information on the development of our American judiciary system, mostly of the Supreme Court itself.

I wish that there was some way to communicate to the currently divided American people the spirit of the Supreme Court, where nine Americans with deeply different beliefs about the law (think of that!
Brooke Evans
Apr 29, 2018 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book. It didn't have quite the readability that I've come to expect from my non-fiction books and memoirs, which is the primary reason for dropping my rating. The stories were good and the organization was some of the best I've ever seen, but it felt very proper a lot of the time and was hard to immerse myself in - it read more textbook-y than some books of its genre. That said, it was pretty awesome to read these humanizing stories of people who and events that stand out in the S ...more
Kimba Tichenor
The book is neither a memoir of the author's time on the Supreme Court nor a history of the Supreme Court, rather to use her words, it is a collection of "stories of the Court and the Justices that come from the ‘out of order’ moments, i.e. the moments between the "bang of the gavels" that are seldom seen by the general public that shed light on the changing role of the Supreme Court in US history.

The above description by the author may give the reader the impression that the author plans to sha
A supreme court justice wrote this? There's no way. There is no voice, and very little, if any, flow in the writing.

I think this book is a collage of several middle school student book reports about the Supreme Court and a few of the justices; and for that, they certainly deserve an A for this picture filled, lightly researched, generously spaced book that offers a font size that requires no reading glasses—how thoughtful they were.

As an introduction to the supreme court, are there better piec
Terence M
Audiobook - 7:15 Hours
Narrator: Sandra Day O'Connor

An interesting reading by the author which I found both interesting and informative.
Dick Reynolds
Feb 03, 2014 rated it liked it
I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway.

Justice O’Connor gives us a top level view of the Supreme Court beginning with its establishment in the Constitution. The members of the court came when John Adams, at the end of his presidency, established vacancies for Thomas Jefferson to fill. The first justices didn’t have much to do in those days and didn’t spend much time at home. They had to “ride circuit” and travel to courts in order to hear cases, with travel expenses coming out of their own po
Nov 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing

Delightful book to hear. I loved her stories of her years on the court. They were short, to the point, and fascinating. Some of the antics she found funny, however, I found mean-spirited.
It was a good book but it could have been better with more details.
Nov 25, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: law, audio, women
Did you know Sandra Day O'Connor was on the Supreme Court? Oh don't worry. She'll only remind you of it every other sentence.

This book is a collection of random facts about the U.S. Supreme Court and some of the more notable justices over the years. It is an oddly packaged selection, not necessarily following any theme outside of the court, and widely interspersed with O'Connor's impressions or experiences. If she turned it more memoir, this might actually have been interesting, but her perspec
Nov 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, nonfiction
A nice overview of the Supreme Court and its history, as well as anecdotes and biographies of stellar individuals who have served on the bench. Aimed at a general reading audience, and suffers perhaps a tad from repetitiveness, but overall I thought it was a good refresher and I learned a few new things. Boy do I wish we had a few like her still on the court.
Sep 22, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: law, supreme-court
This book is accurately described by its subtitle. It mostly contains quirky little stories of justices being characters. It did get up my nose almost immediately. Justice O’Connor quotes with approval Justice Harlan’s famous line from his scathing dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson, dissenting from the court’s approval of separate but equal. “Our Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law.” (3 ...more
James Korsmo
Mar 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
In this book, Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman to sit on the Supreme Court, sets out to tell about the "transformations" over the history of the court through snapshots of a number of its justices and its key moments. And in one sense, this is well accomplished. The book is full of brief anecdotes about people who have served on the court or of key issues that arose. But the book is surprisingly light on legal depth, with only brief descriptions of the characteristics or issues of particular ...more
Apr 17, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoirs
This book provides a cursory look into the history of the Supreme Court through stories of the institution and its justices, both famous and infamous. It is light on legal details and major cases that have touched history (i.e. Brown v. Board and its predecessors) are mentioned only briefly. This is not a heavy legal volume and some readers will find the book more digestible for it.

Sandra Day O'Connor clearly adores the institution she worked for and has great esteem for her former colleagues.
May 20, 2014 rated it it was ok
Sadly, this book fell pretty far short of my expectations. The Supreme Court is an institution with a lot of tradition without much visibility, relatively speaking, into its inner workings, so given the title and the author I was expecting a unique personal perspective of what it was like to see the Court from the inside. Additionally I figured this would be a story of the challenges and rewards of being the first woman to serve in that role. Instead it is mostly a brief summary of how the Court ...more
Jul 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
I really enjoyed O'Connor's tidbits of the Supreme Court; I learned a few things I never knew such as the history of the Court's justices circuit riding. I was a little disappointed that there was not more of her experience other than her oath taking and noting that she was the first woman to be appointed. I was extremely disappointed with how the book ends. She is in the middle of telling a story and then the chapter ends and that is the end of the book. There is no true ending as one would exp ...more
Oct 03, 2013 rated it liked it
Justice O’Conner wrote this book as a quick read for the masses that may not be familiar with the Court. It’s not bad, but there are sections that tend to repeat and it sounds like she may have written the chapters at different times and the editor didn’t clean things up very well. To be fair, I’ve read many many books on the Supreme Court so it’s hard for some of the stories to be fresh when I’ve heard them so many times before. I read Justice Stevens’ recent book which I thought was better tha ...more
John Creighton
Jul 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Justice O'Connor's book will disappoint if you are looking for a tell-all about goings on during her tenure on the Supreme Court. But for history and legal geeks it is a fascinating look at the history of the court going back to its very first days when justices heard very few cases as sitting justices on the Supreme Court and we made to "ride circuit" around a the country to hear cases as appellate judges, often having to travel treacherous, poorly developed routes on horseback. ...more
Mar 05, 2013 rated it did not like it
This book just sucked. If you are looking for personal anecdotes or a personal memoir, look to the recent memoir by John Paul Stevens and don't waste your money on this. Justice O'Connor has an amazing legacy but this book tarnishes it. She basically cut and paste the Supreme Court Wikipedia and shares lifeless snippets about the Court thru history. ...more
Joe Stufflebeam
Dec 02, 2015 rated it did not like it
I was expecting to get some real insight into the court and the process that they go through on cases and how that has evolved over time. This book reads like a Wikipedia page with very shallow, almost bulleted information. The only well written portion of the book is the recital of the Declaration of Independence at the end.
Mar 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio-book
I listened to the audiobook, so it was like having Sandra Day O'Connor sitting in the passenger seat. ...more
Jan 26, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was ok. In my opinion this was a history and ended with a few of O’Connor’s comments. Which I felt were pretty lightweight. The publishers know how to advertise.....maybe next time I’ll remember to check here on Goodreads for reviews!

If you are looking for a history of the Supreme Court, this would be a good summary.
Kyle Treasure
Aug 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Loved hearing Sandra’s voice in the recording, but this was less about interesting stories from the Supreme Court and more a primer in SCOTUS history and precedent. More 10,000 feet view and less in the weeds, which I was hoping for. Still interesting tho.
Colin Milon
Jun 10, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: law-and-justice, 2021
A pleasant history of the Court, albeit dry at times.
Schuyler Wallace
Sep 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
The United States Supreme Court is one of those institutions that invokes a mysterious sense of coldness to most of its observers. To the average American its purpose is murky, its dwellers appear pompous, and its decisions are too complex for most of us to understand. To someone who has been there, such as Justice Sandra Day O’Conner, it’s a much livelier place, filled with glorious history and warm human beings, and a vital adjunct to our way of life. Her book, OUT OF ORDER, is written in an a ...more
Feb 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
“I wanted to write about aspects of the Court’s rich heritage that interested and inspired me. Hencethis book. Only when we reflect on the Court’s journey as a whole can we truly appreciate the remarkable feat of our Founding Fathers and the remarkable accomplishments of our thriving federal judiciary.” From the Introduction

Written in a conversational style, retired Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Sandra Day O’ Connor, has provided us with a short and interesting history of the Supreme C
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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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