Friday, February 7, 2014

Dinner with Sandra D.

Last night I had the amazing opportunity to attend a "Dinner & Fireside Chat with Sandra Day O'Connor".

I was accompanied by a friend who is also a professional, Native woman. A university professor, to be more precise. We were both ridiculously excited to hear the former Supreme Court Justice. I think we both spent more time getting ready for this event than we would have for an actual date. She commented "I'm more nervous than if it were prom."

O'Connor is an engaging speaker and answers question sincerely and directly. It was incredible to hear her speak about being unable to find employment upon graduation from law school, because she's a woman. As a woman who recently went through law school, I remember many conversations about the difficulties that woman can sometimes face in the profession. However, at least we don't have to worry about calling every job posting & having each one refuse to speak to us about an attorney position, simply because of our gender, as she did. Even the county attorney's office that finally hired her wanted to hire her as a typist, rather than an attorney. Thank goodness she didn't type that well.

She spoke passionately about the importance of the autonomy & integrity of the court. It is so important to have a system where judges are appointed & retained in a way that reduces the influence of money and politics. This is vital to maintaining the checks and balances in our three branch system and allowing judges to base decisions on law, rather than being open to being bought by the highest bidder.

When asked how she & other judges make decisions based on law, regardless of public opinion, she said "There's this thing that runs down the middle of your back. It's called a backbone..."

Perhaps my favorite response was to the question, "what advice do you have for woman considering pursuing a career in law." She said "Go for it!" and went on to encourage everyone to use their skills and position to make a difference in their community. "Don't be selfish about it." you all have gotten the same sermon that I preach regularly, from the first woman ever appointed to the Supreme Court. Do something useful with whatever success or privilege that you have. Make a difference in this world because, if you aren't part of the solution, then you are part of the problem.

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