cover image Lady Justice: Women, the Law, and the Battle to Save America

Lady Justice: Women, the Law, and the Battle to Save America

Dahlia Lithwick. Penguin Press, $29 (368p) ISBN 978-0-525-56138-5

Slate legal correspondent Lithwick (coauthor, Me v. Everybody) takes an incisive if uneven look at women who responded to Donald Trump’s election by “upending their lives and their careers and their families to organize a new kind of resistance movement.” Theorizing that women have a “special relationship” with the law because it is “the most conventional way with which to effect radical change,” Lithwick profiles, among others, former acting attorney general Sally Yates, who was fired for refusing to defend Trump’s executive order targeting Muslim travelers, and Robbie Kaplan, a “Jewish, gay, brash commercial litigator from New York City” who won a $26 million lawsuit against the organizers of the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va. Though the profiles are full of sharp observations and astute analyses of legal matters, Lithwick’s focus on individual attorneys and activists inadvertently echoes the “Great Man” theory of social change she thinks Americans are “too apt to succumb to.” Much stronger, if more depressing, are the sections she devotes to her own story of sexual harassment by a federal judge and her sense of complicity in upholding “the culture of silence in the legal profession.” Despite its flaws, this evocative study captures the power and fragility of the rule of law. Agent: Tina Bennett, Bennett Literary. (Sept.)