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

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

Sandra Day O%E2%80%99Connor. Random, $26 (256p) ISBN 978-0-8129-9392-9

The first female Supreme Court justice attempts to shed light on some of its transformations, offering "snapshots of the people and events that reflect the Court’s evolution and journey." Since its inception in 1790, the Court has had its share of colorful characters, landmark cases, and an early history that belies its contemporary status as a well-respected institution. O’Connor tells tales of memorable justices—including former president William Howard Taft and first Chief Justice John Jay—and admits to how overwhelming her first day on the job was. She relates how presentations to the court are often nervously made by lawyers, who were famously advised back in 1940 to "rejoice when the Court asks questions." There are no longer interminable oral arguments, because "the Court’s modern practice has homed in on the legal, rather than the emotional, aspects of the case." O’Connor profiles four justices she deems larger than life, and includes a chapter, "Some Laughs on the Bench," that, though amusing, are not exactly belly laughs. The book is rounded out with the text of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and an admirable series of notes. (Mar.)