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Sandra Day O'Connor: How the First Woman on the Supreme Court Became Its Most Influential Justice

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  276 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
Sandra Day O'Connor, America's first woman justice, became the axis on which the Supreme Court turned. She was called the most powerful woman in America, and it was often said that to gauge the direction of American law, one need look only to O'Connor's vote. Then, just one year short of a quarter century on the bench, she surprised her colleagues and the nation by announc ...more
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published October 25th 2005 by Ecco (first published 2005)
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Feb 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this biography of Justice O'Connor. The more I read about her, the more I relate to her. She was a traditional woman who was an established member of the Republican Party, but she was also ambitious and took that ambition all the way to the Supreme Court of the US. It was interesting to hear about how she "played the system" but still got what she wanted. She was a traditional woman, preferred to wear dresses and makeup, carried her handbag with her, but in this traditional ...more
Feisty Harriet
Of the ones I've read, this is definitely the best biography on O'Connor. She served as a Supreme Court Justice for 25 years, often as the swing vote between the four conservative and four liberal Justices (at least, until Clinton was able to nominate a few more liberals, ahem, Ruth Bader Ginsburg). For the youngest and first woman on the Court, her vote counted as the decider in many major cases, starting her very first term. However, what was most interesting to me was to see her opinions and ...more
After reading The Notorious RBG earlier this year I decided to move on to the story of the first female Supreme Court Justice, Sandra Day O'Connor. Her story is fairly different than RBG (Ruth Bader Ginsburg) and I did not find it as compelling or relatable. O'Connor was very much a politician, and sought to effect change by winning people over and finding a middle ground. While this approach is admirable, her stance on certain equal rights and women's rights issues earlier in her career left me ...more
Wonderful book that introduces us into the world of Sandra Day O'Connor. I learned so many things about her personal life, her public life, and also about the world of the Supreme Court.
Jan 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Sandra Day is one of my heroes. She has lived such an inspiring life and Joan Biskupic does an excellent job highlighting the highs and lows of this influential force. A great read!
O'Connor is a remarkable woman with or without being a Supreme Court Justice. What surprised me the most is that she once went on few dates with Rehnquist during law school.

O'Connor mystified feminists by stating her success came by putting her family first and she would put family first to the end of her tenure. She believed in federalism and her opinions only took small steps in defining the law. O'Connor was successful in gaining support and was truly collaborative. She never let opinions sha
Aug 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A thoroughly engaging, well documented biography. A favorable, but occasionally critical account, written in language non-lawyers can understand.
Leona Farris
I didn't finish. Too much info on court cases for me. Probably good for others.
Aug 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This well researched biography offers a fairly comprehensive overview of Sandra Day O'Connor's (SOC) life and career, up until her retirement from the Supreme Court. Of course, she grabbed national attention when she was appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1981 as the first female justice. Her experience in the court system was considered to be rather thin at the time, but she learned quickly and soon found her niche in the Court. The book covers her interactions with all of the other court members, h ...more
Bob Allen
Aug 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first part of the book, about O'Connor's growing up years, was a bit slow. I thought it picked up well once she was appointed to the Supreme Court. O'Connor is an interesting character. Though she set a precedent by being the first female SCOTUS justice, she didn't fit the mold of a radical reformer. She was both excellent lawyer/judge and "traditional" female, once saying that family should come first. She refused to take up certain stances simply because they were "women's issues". Biskupi ...more
Piet Hein
Aug 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Piet Hein by: Nobody
Shelves: biography-etc
Biscupic has managed to write an impressive biography of the first woman on the US Supreme Court (SC), Sandra Day O’Connor (SOC). SOCs story seems to be told well, both relative to her more personal matters as to her professional life. Biscupic makes it plausible that and how SDO background has influenced her work as a Justice, and how she as a Justice has influenced the SC. Although Biscupic seems quit sympathetic to SOC and analyses in a friendly manner, it seems to me that she has given a bal ...more
Andrea Conarro
I am in the middle of this one and am compelled to finish it. Thank God I am into her actual work on the Supreme Court, or I might have thrown this book out the window. The author speaks a little too glowingly of SDOC for my taste. I don't think ill of SDOC, but my god, all this about how she is the creme de la creme of mothers, wives, AND SCt justices is about all I can take.... I wanted to throw up at the description of her baking treats for the Reagan committee, when they came out to her plac ...more
May 26, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read The Nine, and like most people, loved it. I wanted more Supreme Court gossip and backstory. So I decided to read Biskupic's biography of SDOC. And it did not disappoint. I didn't necessarily like or agree with O'Connor any more than I had before reading it, but it was definitely fascinating reading, especially in regards to how this trailblazer negotiated being a woman and a Justice, the first in the land.

At times I wish the author had been more argumentative and analytical but she large
Josh Liller
I started reading this for my local non-fiction book club, but ended up caught up with a bunch of other things (including college papers and research) that means I'm not going to have a chance to finishing it. I got about halfway through.

It seems a fairly even-handed treatment of O'Connor. I don't know a great deal about the Supreme Court or its judges which at times made it more interesting and other times made the level of detail feel a bit dull.

I don't feel excited enough about it to put it b
Mary Ann
I liked this very much. Joan Biskupic is a veteran Supreme Court reporter and commentator whom I have long enjoyed watching and hearing, particularly on C-SPAN, PBS, and NPR. She is a careful biographer and supplies good notes and bibliography. Her style is very readable, informal but not casual. She gives here a clear portrait of O'Connor's legal and political skills as well as her personality which is much more interesting and complex than I would have guessed from her deceptively simple publi ...more
Sandra Day O'Connor was the first woman justice on the Supreme Court and that is her main claim to fame! I don't share her political views so I can't say I agree with her opinions in a lot of cases. I thought the book was kind of boring. It talked a lot about her cases , but not really much about her. She may have been the kind of woman that was needed to start us off but I'm glad later ones are a bit more aggressive? Not sure that's the best word.
Jul 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So this book is a pretty straight forward autobiography that sets out the facts of Sandra Day O'Connor's life. There isn't anything spectacular about the writing or storytelling other than Sandra's life is interesting enough to make it a very worthwhile read. Her non-traditional route to the supreme court makes her even more interesting to me.
Apr 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very thorough book. She covers not only Justice O'Connor, but the other Justices she served with over the years. I found the cases she described to be so helpful in learning more about the Supreme Court and the job is does.
Apr 07, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, nonfiction
Although this book was interesting, it failed to live up to the promise of the subtitle: "how the first woman on the Supreme Court became its most influential justice." Much of it consisted of summaries of her opinions in cases with which I was already familiar.
Oct 01, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2015
There were parts of this book that were very dry, but at the same time it was very informative. The parts that I enjoyed the most were about her childhood, but I learned much more from the parts about the supreme court.
CW Crollard
Jul 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First woman on the court.

What a remarkable life, the lady from the desert, serving our country with such grace. Stories of cases, decisions, and personalities of her colleagues, makes this a wonderful bio of a true heroine.
Nancy Shoemake
I enjoyed the detailed events regarding Sandra's life. There was a great deal of information regarding the voting of specific court cases.
Stephen Elliott
Aug 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A bit dry, but both culturally and politically important
Feb 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Enjoyed it very much. Love this author. Her other books about the Supreme Court are also excellent!
Sep 21, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well done biography of a less than mediocre justice.
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Jan 26, 2014
Lowell Kebschull
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Dec 21, 2016
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Feb 02, 2017
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Sep 12, 2015
Glenda L. McDorman
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Oct 27, 2016
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JOAN BISKUPIC has covered the Supreme Court since 1989. Previously the Supreme Court reporter for The Washington Post, she is the legal affairs correspondent for USA Today, a frequent panelist on PBS’s Washington Week, and the author of Sandra Day O’Connor: How the First Woman on the Supreme Court Became Its Most Influential Justice. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and daughter.
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“She didn't wallow in problems or reveal self-doubt.” 3 likes
“She looked for common ground. She did not nurse grudges.” 2 likes
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