First: Sandra Day O'Connor
by Evan Thomas
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's remarkable example of determination, deliberation, and moderation is always worth more reflection. Fortunately for us, Evan Thomas, a prolific author and two-time New York Times bestseller, brings his considerable talent to the new biography, First, an accessible and personal portrait of one of the greats in American jurisprudence. It is worth your time.
This short book is as much a treatise on how to live as a professional as it is a biography of the first female U.S. Supreme Court justice. The author does an excellent job showing how her experience as the majority leader of the Arizona Senate and later state appellate judge informed her views on statutory construction, federalism, and separation of powers. For the legal junkies, there are the in-depth discussions on the political turmoil of the last century, the changing caselaw of the American legal system, and the internal intrigue of the largely cloistered judicial branch. But what makes First memorable is the use of stories and moments that examine the personal philosophy of arguably the most powerful woman in modern American history.
Throughout her life, Justice O'Connor balanced purposeful restraint and decisive action. A reader cannot help but appreciate Justice O'Connor's deliberate word choice, which was never puffery and always on point. One such example is her frequent use of the word "attractive" to describe the inner beauty of individuals, ideas, and causes. Another admirable trait is...