Out of Order by Sandra Day O'Connor
Stories from the History of the Supreme Court

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A more careful editor would have saved the author from...fumbles.
-NY Times



“I called this book Out of Order because it reflects my goal, which is to share a different side of the Supreme Court. Most people know the Court only as it exists between bangs of the gavel, when the Court comes to order to hear arguments or give opinions. But the stories of the Court and the Justices that come from the ‘out of order’ moments add to the richness of the Court as both a branch of our government and a human institution.”—Justice Sandra Day O’Connor
From Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman to sit on the United States Supreme Court, comes this fascinating book about the history and evolution of the highest court in the land.
Out of Order sheds light on the centuries of change and upheaval that transformed the Supreme Court from its uncertain beginnings into the remarkable institution that thrives and endures today. From the early days of circuit-riding, when justices who also served as trial judges traveled thousands of miles per year on horseback to hear cases, to the changes in civil rights ushered in by Earl Warren and Thurgood Marshall; from foundational decisions such as Marbury v. Madison to modern-day cases such as Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, Justice O’Connor weaves together stories and lessons from the history of the Court, charting turning points and pivotal moments that have helped define our nation’s progress.
With unparalleled insight and her unique perspective as a history-making figure, Justice O’Connor takes us on a personal exploration, painting vivid pictures of Justices in history, including Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., one of the greatest jurists of all time; Thurgood Marshall, whose understated and succinct style would come to transform oral argument; William O. Douglas, called “The Lone Ranger” because of his impassioned and frequent dissents; and John Roberts, whom Justice O’Connor considers to be the finest practitioner of oral argument she has ever witnessed in Court. We get a rare glimpse into the Supreme Court’s inner workings: how cases are chosen for hearing; the personal relationships that exist among the Justices; and the customs and traditions, both public and private, that bind one generation of jurists to the next—from the seating arrangements at Court lunches to the fiercely competitive basketball games played in the Court Building’s top-floor gymnasium, the so-called “highest court in the land.”
Wise, candid, and assured, Out of Order is a rich offering of inspiring stories of one of our country’s most important institutions, from one of our country’s most respected pioneers.

Praise for Out of Order
“[A] succinct, snappy account of how today’s court—so powerful, so controversial and so frequently dissected by the media—evolved from such startlingly humble and uncertain beginnings.”—The New York Times
“A brief and accessible history of the nation’s highest court, narrated by a true historical figure and a jurisprudential giant.”—The Boston Globe
“A vibrantly personal book [that] displays O’Connor’s uncommon common sense, her dry wit and her reverence for the nation’s institutions.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch
“Full of riveting anecdotes . . . a compact history . . . albeit a more lighthearted, personality-filled one than you might find in a high school classroom.”—Associated Press

From the Hardcover edition.

About Sandra Day O'Connor

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Sandra Day O'Connor was born in El Paso, Texas, and raised on the Lazy B Ranch. She attended Stanford University, where she took Wallace Stegner's writing course. She began her public service in Phoenix, and was majority leader of the Arizona Senate before becoming a judge. She is the author of Lazy B, a memoir about growing up in the Southwest, and The Majesty of the Law, a reflection on American law and life. President Reagan nominated her as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, and she served from 1981 to 2006. She serves as Chancellor of the College of William & Mary, and is on the board of trustees of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.
Published March 5, 2013 by Random House. 256 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Law & Philosophy, Professional & Technical, Education & Reference. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
Peak Rank on Mar 24 2013
Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for Out of Order
All: 3 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 1

NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Adam Liptak on Mar 29 2013

A more careful editor would have saved the author from...fumbles.

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NY Times

Reviewed by Michiko Kakutani on Mar 04 2013

The reason to read “Out of Order” is to get Justice O’Connor’s succinct, snappy account of how today’s court — so powerful, so controversial and so frequently dissected by the media — evolved from such startlingly humble and uncertain beginnings that it initially seemed like a jerry-built enterprise constructed on entirely ad hoc principles.

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NY Journal of Books

Reviewed by Diane Brandley on Mar 01 2013

Out of Order provides the average reader as well as the scholar with a fascinating framework of history, highlighting significant cases, profiling notable Justices, and reflecting on the author’s own tenure on the Supreme Court.

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