Anna Quindlen, an extraordinary writer whom I met through her book, One True Thing, has a sad and eloquent editorial in Newsweek speculating on the likely social implications due to the loss of Sandra Day O’Connor from the Supreme Court.
O’Connor, the first female Supreme Court Justice, was never known as a feminist firebrand. But she had what I think of as transformative experience, something that can’t help but suffuse your life and your mind. She carried within her the memory of what it was like to be reflexively devalued despite being smart and capable. I think it’s probably a good thing for a judge to have faced down that sort of organized systemic injustice. One argument is that it’s not supposed to matter, that judges are simply there to consider the statute as written, as though the law were algebra and its subject numbers. But jurisprudence is not math, and judges are not automatons but people who have been undoubtedly and sometimes mysteriously marked by what they remember, or choose to forget.
The appointment of Alito makes me wonder what is wrong with our educational system such that we could not find even one qualified woman lawyer anywhere in this nation to replace Justice O’Connor?