Women in the Shadows of the Supreme Court
Published by: NYU Press
304 pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in, 15 black and white images
- ISBN: 9781479895915
- Published: May 2020
The inspiring and previously untold history of the women considered—but not selected—for the US Supreme Court
In 1981, after almost two centuries of exclusively male appointments, Sandra Day O’Connor became the first female Supreme Court Justice of the United States, a significant historical moment and a symbolic triumph for supporters of women’s rights. Most do not know, however, about the remarkable women shortlisted for the Supreme Court in the decades before O’Connor’s success.
Since the 1930s, nine women were formally considered for a seat on the Supreme Court, but were ultimately passed over. Shortlisted gives them the recognition they deserve. Award-winning scholars Renee Knake Jefferson and Hannah Brenner Johnson rely on previously unpublished materials to illustrate the professional and personal lives of these accomplished women. From Florence Allen, the first woman judge in Ohio, and the first to appear on a president’s list for the Court, to Cornelia Kennedy, the first woman to serve as chief judge of a US district court, shortlisted by Ford, Nixon, and Reagan, Shortlisted shares the often overlooked stories of those who paved the way for women’s representation throughout the legal profession and beyond.
In addition to filling a notable historical gap, the book exposes the harms of shortlisting—it reveals how adding qualified female candidates to a list but passing over them ultimately creates the appearance of diversity while preserving the status quo. With the stories of these nine exemplary women as a framework, Shortlisted offers all women a valuable set of strategies for upending the injustices that still endure. It is a must-read for those vying for positions of power as well as for those who select them.
"This is a major contribution to the story of women lawyers. The authors study women whose trajectories were never before systematically examined - women shortlisted for the Supreme Court. What they describe is all the more remarkable because it involves remarkable women – portraying women in gendered and unfavorable ways; emphasizing diversity by putting women on shortlists, but not selecting them; saving a seat for certain groups but not for women. It sounds so familiar in other contexts, but it is shocking in this one. The message is clear and troubling: If women who are the elite of the profession can be treated shabbily, we have much more to do." ~Hon. Nancy Gertner, U.S.D.Ct. Judge (Ret.)
"[Shortlisted] tells the political and personal sagas of women publicly considered for appointment to the Supreme Court but never actually nominated by a president... With fresh research, the authors effectively humanize the women who never received the nominations they deserved." ~Kirkus Reviews