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Sandra Day O'Connor Gets 'Out of Order' With New Book

By Robyn Hagan Cain | Last updated on

Naturally, we love the trial scene in "Scent of Woman." Lovable Charlie's future is on the line, and crotchety Lt. Col. Slade (Al Pacino) walks in, gives a riveting speech, and saves the day. The best part is when the headmaster tells Col. Slade he's out of order. Pacino yells back, "Out of order? I'll show you out of order."

What attorney hasn't dreamed of pulling a Pacino in court?

This week, "Out of Order" takes on a decidedly more orderly form: It's the name of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's latest book. After reflections on life out West in "Lazy B" and the Court in "The Majesty of the Law," Justice O'Connor is on her way back to the bestseller list with "Out of Order."

She describes the book as a look at a “different side of the Supreme Court,” explaining, “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.”

In an excerpt published this week on, O’Connor noted,

When I retired from the Court, I found myself increasingly being asked by people across the country and across the world for my “insider” perspective on the Court … Very often, the inquirer would have recently seen a newspaper editorial about a controversial case or read some supposed “tell-all” book on the Court. I would always answer that my years of service were a privilege, that I had great affection for my colleagues, and that the Justices strive to reach the right result in each case. I came to realize that what I wished to convey above all was my understanding of how the Court evolved, and how it represents so much more than what the day’s headlines can capture … I wanted to write about aspects of the Court’s rich heritage that interested and inspired me.

After reading one of those “tell-all” books — Jeffrey Toobin’s “The Nine” — we suspect that Justice O’Connor won’t exactly be spilling the Court’s dirty secrets. (That, in Toobin-quoting-O’Connor parlance would be “unattractive.” Also, we’ve read enough books from Supreme Court justices — “Five Chiefs,” anyone? — to know that the real dish comes from journalists.) But if you’re looking for an insider’s take on judicial history — peppered with first-person accounts from the first woman on the Supreme Court — “Out of Order” is available now.

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