tv Book Discussion on Sisters in Law CSPAN September 13, 2015 11:00pm-12:01am EDT
i think we are going to get started here. my name is justin and i'm the programs manager here at the store which means [inaudible] i can also try to speak closer. thank you all for coming out. we are honored to have linda speaking about sisters-in-law. first i have a few notes now is the time to turn off any electronic devices that may be tempting to be or buzz throughout the proceedings. we would ask that you would use one of two microphones. it looks like there is one to my
left. that way everyone here can hear it and it will be on the recordings. at the end you could help us by holding your chairs and resting them against something sturdy table clean up the process greatly. the former professor at the university with a degree in the university of chicago and phd in philosophy she practiced law for 15 years and appeared before the u.s. supreme court in three different cases and since she has published the nonfiction works including but not limited to victory triumphant revolution and get to work and manifesto for women of the world and now she has published a sisters-in-law how sandra day o'connor and ruth bader ginsburg went to the court and changed the world. a pair of women started their career in the era that women were not assumed to be much at all. nevertheless with all the suffering of the discrimination
it is even after posting impressive marks while at harvard law school. they eventually come, this jumps over a bit of material that eventually the president thought sandra day o'connor in fulfilling the campaign promise he made made the plaintiff e-mail justice and so later visited clinton apparently skeptical at first was one over pretty quickly by meeting ruth bader ginsburg and now is a fascinating point in her career she is being asked about retirement and popularity. so anyway their readers see the type a seem to type a few melody and determination that each displayed in different ways throughout their careers. and as the subtitle states they changed the world so with that i will get out of the way and let linda tell more of the story and i would just ask that you help me in welcoming her to politics and prose. [applause]
that's right. in my next life i'm coming back as a large white van. [laughter] thank you politics and prose and welcome everyone, thank you for coming out on this hot night. i've got each of you as my own very special friend. and thank you to my sister judith and my daughter both of whom are in the audience tonight and who came from far away to be here tonight. sisters-in-law is the story of the two most important women in america. to date the first female justice of the supreme court of the united states sandra day o'connor and her sister-in-law,
the second female justice of the supreme court with peter ginsburg it is the story of their private and public life and how they got legal equal to be for women and as book says changed the world. the book opens in 1996 when they are at the pinnacle of their power. by the time the nations of the great birth of democracy the fourth of july of the nine justices of the supreme court have mostly left town. but before carting the capital for the summer recess they must first decide all the cases that they have heard since the current term began in the previous october.
the hardest most controversial cases where the unelected court ordered the society to change in a big way are often left to the end as the days for the decision kick away in late june to ten june attention in the courtroom is as hot and heavy as the washington summer air. the morning of june 26, justice ruth peter ginsburg at the second woman appointed to the high court since its high court since its founding flicked through the red velvet curtain and took her seat at the end. five places along the majestic curved set sandra day o'connor since 1981 the first woman on the supreme court. each woman justice formed a caller on her robe but otherwise there was no link between the two of them any more than there
was any link between any of the other justices. on that day however the public got a glimpse of the ties that bound the two most powerful women in the land. speaking from the depths that the word over her tiny frame and the justice department decision of the court in united states versus virginia. from that morning and june 1996, the state run virginia military institute, which have trained young men since before the civil war would have to take females into its ranks. the constitution of the united states, which required the equal protection of the law for all persons including women demanded it. people people do that against burkett got to speak for the course this morning because her
sister-in-law, justice o'connor had decided that she should. after the justices voted at the conference to admit women, the most senior justice in the majority or the chief justice if he is in the majority gets to assign the opinion to anyone who agrees with the majority. he assigned it to the senior women's sandra day o'connor but she wouldn't take it. she knew who had labored at the supreme court for the american civil liberties union from 1971 to 1980 to get the court to call when any law. on the decision they justices do not reap their whole opinion which can offer pages. that morning they this morning
they chose to include in the summer reading a reference to justice o'connor's 1982 decision the opinion from 15 years before with the closely divided court and had laid down the rules that states may not close the entrance based on the notions concerning the role and ability of male and female. she lifted her eyes from her test and paused in the meeting the glance of her sister-in-law from across the bench she thought of the legacy that the two were building together and she nodded and resumed reading her opinion.
it's not me. it's a great story. what inspired me to write it, how could you not write it? three years ago along before they had become an internet icon, i realized that no one had written a book about her heroic career. i found when no one else had thought to write on. why do we care about her story? not just because she became the supreme court justice. there are lots of supreme court justices whose lives we don't care much about. we care about ruth bader ginsburg because she changed the world. and if you think about the supreme court justices have
changed the world coming to cannot leave out the ones that came first on the sandra day o'connor. one of the many great discoveries i made when i was writing the book is how much they actually came from o'connor when she was the only woman on the supreme court from 1981 until 1993. so we think of ruth peter ginsburg as this sort of thurgood marshall of the women's movement as president clinton called her. but a lot of the votes in the discrimination into the harassment law that has made the world a better place for women actually came from the court when o'connor was on it and a lot of it came from o'connor including a crucial vote that she cast just months after she arrived as the first woman on the supreme court. the icing on the cake is that they not only make the change but they lived the change they were making so their lives including the works were actually very interesting and
similar to thurgood marshall. they lived and changed it and lived in the world they have changed and used the power that they had gained through that change. that's why people are saying with a tone of surprise. it is a page turner. this book is actually a page turner. a reader's blog. they published a column called aids books we loved and said it may look imposing the sheet reasons the subjects in a rich and engaging manner that the pages will fly. and what an engaging story i had
[inaudible] [laughter] blonde, brunette. i'm not going to tell you all the things i found in the three years i worked on the book looking at the letters in the letters that have never been looked at before and interviewing everyone at the polls. the sandra day o'connor was born on the ranch in southeast arizona. the nearest school was three hours away and there was for some time no running water. for eight years, she was an only child three at 18 when she was around 15, her father asked her to drive there and check truck
and bring lunch to the cattle crew that were wound to the rounding of the ranch and she set out. part way there she got a flat tire. i live in arizona and i'm telling you you can die from that. she was in the middle and there was nobody else coming by. she had changed the type so she got out and started trying to change the tire to get the wanted nuts and blues she took a lungren should put it on, jumped on the ranch with the full weight of her body so she could take them off and put the spare tire on and drive to lunch where they were bleeding and her father said you're late. [laughter] and she said i had a flat tire.
he said you should have left sooner. [laughter] and she learned that there were no excuses. even if you had a good excuse, you didn't have an excuse. you simply have to as she said to herself and ruth peter ginsburg when asked just do it and she also learned that you get no quarter from a more powerful man. you have to satisfy them however unreasonable demand. where would you rather be on the? she was 16. she met a charismatic mentor who motivated her to go to law
school. she went to law school college in six years. and when she got out of stanford she couldn't get the job. she got her first child by agreeing to work for nothing. she went to a county attorney had said you hired a woman once i heard, hire me. he said i have no money. she said i will wait until you've got an appropriation. he said i have no room. she seems to like me and she did. everybody liked the young and charismatic and beautiful sandra day o'connor. she and john moved to phoenix and she grows to become the vice
chair of the pickup county. the republican credentials are crucial to her story and from there she went to the arizona legislature. they decided that they would take the chief justice. it was the administrative assistant and he was in arizona going to a conference in flagstaff. so when his friend found out that he was in arizona he decided that the chief justice of the united states needed to go on a houseboat trip.
so he said he would like to go and then he realized he had absolutely nothing to say to the chief justice of the united states. so they were john and sandra day o'connor and there was evidence of the world she lived in that they pick up the phone and call john o'connor and his law firm in the city you want to go on a trip with warren burger. in 1980 president ronald reagan decided that he would campaign to put a woman on the supreme court the next time a vacancy came open and people speculate that he played a big role in getting her that appointment. he just flipped over in the houseboat be they used to disappear after dinner and they
interviewed the hosts before he died so this is all new material. they would work for them and they would be sitting in the corner of the house chatting away. he always knew how to get along much more is more powerful man and was terrific at that. across the country in 1933, ruth peter ginsburg was particularly of a father russian immigrant [inaudible] not a brilliant idea. she went to school and the day before she graduated high school, her mother died. her sister died of meningitis many years before so she was raised during the critical years as an only child. she went to cornell where they
have a habit of treating women like equals and i should note that because i went there myself and then a very famous anti-mccarthy voice in the dark days was her mentor. she married martin ginsburg and they had two children. she followed him to harvard and when he was in new york she left harvard law school and followed him to columbia where the high school classmates many of whom are in that class at columbia law school and found out that she was coming to the law school to finish up with them they released a collective sigh and knew that each one of the class ranks would go down by one and
they did. she graduated first in her class at columbia. her teachers tried to get her a supreme court clerkship. one of the smartest people that sat on the court the teachers recognized her and try to get the supreme court justice that would take a woman into his chambers nor whether the court repealed the justices and take her into the chambers she wound up as the district court clerk and then ultimately started her real career. the point came when some of the students came to her and asked her to teach a course and she did a typical thing. she went to the library to say i better look this up and she found a love these laws about
treating women badly and started taking cases from new jersey. she was offered a job at columbia which found out that they have no women on their faculty. [laughter] and the american civil liberties union started its women's rights project and they invited her to run again in the nine years she had six cases that she argued and won if she did a brief but didn't get to argue. she had six cases that she argued and lost one. she had five victories in the case that she argued and also on the case i like the five cases number because jane austen had five and i can say with peter ginsburg had five great cases but it's really six. [laughter]
in the firing squad known as the feminist movement, no one ever took a shot at our beach a. one of them could see the say the most outrageous things in a soft little voice if i knew how to say such outrageous things and get away with a it i do it myself. jimmy carter took the white house and the pointed her to the dc circuit and when bill clinton was elected in 93 he put her on the supreme court of the united states and those are the facts but hundreds of thousands went to college in those years and hundreds if not thousands went to law school and they didn't go to the supreme court and change the world. how did they do that? how did they do that? interestingly in much the same
way so although they look different on the surface and of character they are actually rather similar. they never believed the story of their own inferiority. in their mind, but clark wasn't going to strike midnight. they didn't believe they did internalize the social attitude that women couldn't do it. they always thought they were entitled to rule. if you read the letters as i did he will see that coming out as loud and clear. they always thought that they were title ii. in 1993, when i first peter the first peter ginsburg's colleagues at columbia. she comes to dc and she says do
you believe this, the two of us in such high positions? [laughter] >> certainly. i have no trouble at all believing it. believing they were entitled to the the rules they treated their opponents and colleagues as if they were all members of the same elite club. i have a wonderful story in the book that i got from the letters about the correspondence. it's as if they were colleagues and if she were as well positioned to see what went on as he was. when pressed to admit that they were inferior to what they took offense to the legendary story asking the eight women in the class at harvard have they
justified taking up the place of the man and assigned them from the male faculty to accompany them to the dinner parties and then they got to sit at the dinner party and be asked what they were taking at harvard. -open-brace walter what did they say that wasn't so long ago, maybe 1956. they gave gave him answers during a time of the women's movement in 1970, however she started telling that story. [laughter] she told the story so often that when griswold finally wrote a letter to the student paper saying that it had been a joke. [laughter] in the tenure on the supreme
court be delivered in over-the-top scathing and very personal dissent. she never said a word about he sounded surprised that she wasn't interested in being suites talked. he called to send the worst mistake i've ever made. [laughter] >> when they couldn't get even, they followed the advice. on her wedding day he was hinting a gift of your plug. sometimes i'm his mother said, it pays to be a little test. when he was involved in trying to pass the equal rights amendment or great political friend and mentor the goldwater
file, which as i mentioned i was the first person to see they just came up during the very years .-full-stop friendly us notes from o'connor. they try to stop her from being put on the supreme court of the united states and he went on record saying that sandra day o'connor's opponents should be spanked. [laughter] you need -- as the self self-discipline is, most important of all, they didn't think that they were the only ones who deserved to rise. when o'connor received the news president president ronald reagan selected her for the supreme court, she had one concern. it was okay to be first but she didn't want to be the last.
they knew they were not alone. neither one of them thought they got to where they were. they demonstrated that commitment. one of the reasons i honor them so much as the barrier didn't stop them. walker he didn't face them. they told her that her harvard classmates have been talking about her at a meeting at the club. her male classmates told her that they used to call her by the nickname bitch.
i was sitting at lunch and we were talking about the importance of relationships in the story of that relationship. he asked if i knew in my area of specialty, people who had relationships and i said yes i do. as we were sitting there at lunch i said to him let's call it sisters-in-law. i thought about this for a long
time. [laughter] this title is now on the book and i thought of it. [applause]. >> my favorite thing is well behaved women never make it. >> thank you for being with us. as as i understand it, president clinton first interviewed stephen breyer to go. he was running a fever and did not want to go at all. he then interviewed ruth bader ginsburg. my question is, if breyer had
been well and interviewed more to clinton's liking, do you think, and he had nominated breyer, do you think years later he would've nominated ginsburg? >> he actually wanted someone else because he thought he was so effective and persuaded. bill clinton is a phony on that. [laughter] he couldn't make up his mind. i don't know what the competition was.
clinton was looking for other candidates. when clinton met ginsburg and i have a story about it in the book, he was was completely smitten with her. so it was easy. i don't know if he would have gone looking for her if they had found someone else. they were considering considering several people. we just don't know.$ you. >> just a brief question, you talked about not being in the court as an intern or following the law book, have they done as
justices, have they brought in a number of women? did they go overboard with it or what has been there, or when i say overboard, has it been. >> i would say, if i had to guess since i talked to almost all of them, here's an interesting point detroit. i'm not telling you another thing until you buy the book. [laughter] sandra day o'connor had the most law books from the chamber then she took from the chambers of any other lower court judge. i got all the law book perks to see where they came from. i haven't read your book so it
may be covered in the book. >> talk about the friendship between ruth bader ginsburg. >> it did not change the world. it just didn't change the world. i asked about it, i asked the judge who i won't name, who sat on the circuit with the two of them, and he said he thought scalia played the role that martin ginsburg played in the social life. when the judges would go places, scalia would be the funny talkative guy that did the social labor like marty ginsburg did for the retiring ruth bader ginsburg. i didn't think it wasn't was as
interesting as the partnership to change the world. >> justice o'connor was for several years the swing vote on the court. the spotlight is on you, did she enjoy that role and mike being in the spotlight? >> loved loved it. she loved it. she is extremely directive. she is constantly telling people how to go places even when they don't need directions. i live in phoenix so i know a lot of people. i knew her well before she was the queen on the queens court. she'd tell me how to drive. she loved it. she used it brilliantly. there are skills available and if there weren't opportunities available, she could threaten to concur you can write endless
letters and they are constantly negotiating with you because you're the fifth vote. it's an enormously powerful position. ruth bader ginsburg did more to change the world but she was never as powerful as o'connor was. from from 1987 when power laughed and she became the swing vote from 2005 until the end when she retired. >> hello, you said when ruth bader ginsburg was asked to teach a course about women in law she didn't know anything about it had to go to the library and do a crash course for herself. what year was that and what she not involved in the women's movement? is she not not aware? what was her human relationship to the women's movement. >> right than when women came flooding into law school and there were two women faculty
members. one is still teaching somewhere in the other was ruth spader ginsburg. she knew nothing about it but they went to her because she was one of the two female faculty members. i know she went to sweden in 1963 because she was an expert in swedish civil procedure and so she went to sweden in 1952 and that was the year when the feminine mystique, the swedish version, was published in sweden and it was the talk of all the cocktail parties and everything. we we know she had to have been exposed to the swedish movement. nonetheless, she kept a very low profile at rutgers. she was pregnant with her son
and she wore her mother-in-law's big closed close to conceal it because she was afraid they would not give her ten year or promote her. she kept a very low profile in those years and she described that to the library as a road to damascus moment. i don't agree with that. i think i think she was explodes to it in sweden and therefore she was predisposed. also from robert robert cushman, may he rest in peace, her wonderful mentor who was a true liberal and taught her the theory of liberalism and how to think like a liberal. she had the framework of understanding ready when she got out of cornell. thank you. that's a great question. >> you made reference of trying to interview justice o'connell or justice ginsburg. did you try? >> let's have a vote. did i try? [laughter]
i know people who know them after all these years in the business. so they put me through to ruth and i corresponded with her and she invited me to come to washington. i did meet with her. i had an interesting moment when i met with her. i never actually had physically been near her but i was looking down at her and she looked up at me and she had huge blue eyes and i thought to myself she must've been absolutely beautiful when she was young and she was. she said she would cooperate if the interest that it was okay. one of the lessons of this book is that sandra meant a lot more to her than some stranger. sandra meant a lot more to her than an old almost anyone in her professional life. i was sitting in my home office, like all the writers just in my bath robe covered in crackers.
we all are. my cell phone rang and i answered it an honest to god a voice said linda, this is sandra o'connor. i thought oh yeah right, this is my sister playing a joke on me. but it was, and she was calling to tell me why she would not operate. that was not a happy moment. here's the bottom line. i had to work so hard to get the information the hard way. i found all this archival material and stuff that nobody had seen or used and then people started answering my phone calls. why are they taking my phone calls if reef peter ginsburg said she won't cooperate. this made no sense. sense. you would think they would call her and she would say we are not cooperating. they were like chatty cathy. i am writing my book. about a
year ago i went to the historical society to to hear her speak. in the audience were many of my sources. [laughter] afterward i was standing outside with my editor and some of the sources recognize me and came up to me to say hello. one of them said to me, a year ago, you don't think we talk to you without asking her do you? i was actually kind of hoping i'd look out and see her sitting i wanted to offer her a ride in the limo. [laughter] i think one day i went to my mailbox and there was a big envelope from the supreme court of the united states. i thought to myself being
jewish, oh god, what did i do wrong. is someone coming after me? in fact it was from ruth and contained all of the speeches she had given about o'connor after o'connor retired. it had a nice note and so i feel like she wanted to cooperate and if you look at their whole record which is all on youtube, you will see that they tell the same stories over and over again as many very powerful and famous people do. they have their lines down pat and it's very hard to get them to reveal anymore. in some ways i don't feel as if i lost that much because it made me work harder and i'm not sure they would have given me anything much. if there there are mistakes in the book, it's their fault. [laughter] i asked. thank you very much for this incredibly delightful presentation.
>> i haven't read your book but i am looking forward to it. aside from the gender issue, when you look at the body of work, sandra day o'connor and ruth bader ginsburg and u.s. asset along the lines of looking back, do you think that a century from now, their work will be incredibly strong and work that will be viewed as really important? i'm just curious. >> they call it the war on corporate money and some think they should've called it something different. it's hard to say. i thought about this a lot. i know a little bit about their federal jurisprudence because one of the cases i had was when
sandra day o'connor was against me and and that time i would've traded her for any mail, actually. i don't know a lot about their congress clause in their administrative laws. i will say, for 20 years, sandra day o'connor was often the crucial fifth vote. women did not have their abortions made criminal in those years and they did not have to go down to the motel to negotiate their rays with their male boss in those years. because sandra day o'connor often provided the crucial fifth vote or if she didn't she was in the conversation. their lives and our lives were better for 20 years. now the court is starting to undo some of the things she did.
they are not separating those two processes. i think they're embedded it. what happens if it all gets reversed. i don't thing it's all going to be reversed. ginsburg great accomplishment is the ten years of litigations for the women's right project. in that ten year period she took the court from saying any law could say anything about women. there was no law that discriminates against women. she, in ten years, by the end of those ten years, she brought a really outrageous case for somebody who should have never one and they had to giver her victory because she had one little case at a time and tied
their fingers and tied their hands and then she tie their arms together. the small clever woman with the red ribbon on her ponytail got in the papers from the supreme court and they are saying to each other -- we hate this. we don't want to have this outcome. but outcome. but they were honorable. that's a huge accomplishment also. now she will be the great remembered. >> thank you. >> i guess you don't want to tell us why sandra day o'connor didn't want to cooperate. >> somebody called me, i was on
a station and a ring or call through to ask whether i had gotten her cooperation. you should never start with me, right. so i answered and i think a y is confidential and i can't tell you. it's not in the book in a fight told you i'd have to kill you. [laughter] the piece that i can tell you is she is very domineering. she did not cooperate with the great journalists who wrote the comprehensive biography. she wanted to tell her own story. she told it very brilliantly in the book about the ranch. here's the sad thing, she will never get to tell that story. that ship has sailed. she didn't cooperate with me and
i wrote the story. she could have had some influence but she wouldn't. that's the part that i can can share with you. she never cooperated with anyone telling her story. she has a set pattern that she does. if you interview for you her you all get the same story. >> i also heard justice ginsburg speak several years ago after sonya soto mayor had been appointed. she talked about how it was just her and sandra day o'connor and many of the male counterparts would confuse them. they look nothing alike but they were called ginsburg justice o'connor and vice versa. they said having a third woman on the court, that stops. also, do you know, is she close to so tomorrow soto mayor or kagan? >> she and kagan have been friends for decades. kagan used to be the source of
many of her quotes. >> there are stories about soto mayor and ginsburg who wrote a letter to her favorite client. he said to me if i'm going to answer that question i better check with the letters i got from ruth. i was like letters? in her letter to stephen, one of the 200+ letters that i have a my computer, some which i share some which i share with you in this book, she said she was very glad for her company so i think she was very glad for her
company. i am very glad for sonia sotomayor to be there. i would try to write about her. [laughter] okay, do you want me to sign some books? >> okay, i think were were all set [applause]. [applause]. [inaudible conversation] every weekend, book tv brings you 48 hours of nonfiction authors and books on c-span2. keep watching for more television for serious readers.
after the medieval. we had the ice age and the warming we've had since the 19th century. i accept the planet is warm and i rejoice that rejoice that it is warm because app for the need evil warm. it has been very beneficial to mankind. im canadian and am canadian and the entire political, economic and financial development on my country has taken place during this warming. my entire nation has been the beneficiary of this warming effect. there is a statistic some of you may know that 90% of the population of canada lives within 100 miles of the u.s. border. you know why that is? you go beyond that it's freezing cold.
when new revolutionaries and us loyalists had carved up the continent we should've done it north south down the mississippi i was talking to professor yesterday. he said he'd move from alberta to british columbia because it was warmer. that's like moving from louisiana to mississippi for the skiing. [laughter] 90% of canadians canadians live within 100 miles of the u.s. borders. if we hadn't had the warming of the last century and a half, 99% of canadians would be living within 100 yards of the u.s. order. it would just be one long condo development. that would be it. so when i first saw 15 years
ago, i reacted much like the professor of physics at ochsner university. oxnard university. you can download a diploma for 17 shillings, nobody takes it seriously. anyway the professor said like many people i was dragged into this. i was looking up some minor detail about the middle evil warming. then discovered this weird universe of people that didn't believe it happened. even more bizarrely they appear to believe essentially nothing had happened in the world before the 20th century. the hockey-stick is an extraordinary claim which requires extraordinary evidence so i started reading about the subject. it became that the first piece of evidence
was how weak it was and how desperate its defenders were to hide it. i had always had an interest in pathological science and it looked like i might've stumbled across a really good modern example. [laughter] i agree with that. for a generation generation of people across the western world they abolish not only the middle evil warming. but the entire concept of natural climate variability. if you talk to some of these young activists, they don't even believe, they don't even know what natural climate variability is.
you can watch this and other programs online. >> all persons having business before the supreme court of the united states must give their attention. >> never 759. >> number 18. >> it's probably the most famous piece. it existed here on land where slavery wasn't legally recognized. >> putting a brown decision in effect would take presidential orders. it would take the courage of children. >> we wanted to pick cases that changed the direction and
importance of the court in society and also changed society so she told them they would have to have a search and she demanded to see the paper to see what it was. she grabbed it out of his hand to look at it and the police officer handcuffed her. >> i can't imagine a better way to bring the constitutional life than telling the human stories behind these great cases. >> after being convicted for failing to report for relocation they took his case all the way to the supreme court.
>> if you had to pick one freedom that was the most essential to the function of the democracy, it has to be freedom of speech. >> let's go through a few cases that illustrate very dramatically and visually what it means to live in a society of 310 million different people who will stick together because they believe in the rule of law. landmark cases, an exploration of 12 historic supreme court decisions and the human stories behind them. a new series on c-span it debuts monday, october 5 at 9:00 p.m. next on our weekly author interview program "after words" minnesota senator amy klobuchar
discusses her book. >> senator amy klobuchar, congratulations on your book the senator next door. >> thank you so much. >> in the prologue you talk about an early brush with sexism and injustice. you were in the fourth grade. tell us what happened. >> what happened is that i was wearing the first pair of pants ever to be worn by a girl. >> now that is a good point. >> it was a public school and it was in minnesota and i wore multicolored floral bell bottom pants. sure enough i was called into the