Sisterhood Blog

The Supreme Court and the Single Gal

By Deborah Kolben

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It’s hard not to get excited about the nomination of Elena Kagan to replace Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court. If seated, she would bring the number of women on the Supreme Court to three, the number of Jewish women to two, and the total number of Jews on the bench to three. On paper, Kagan’s a great choice. An Upper West Side girl who went to public school and then off to Princeton and Harvard Law School, where she became the first woman to be named the Dean of the Law School. And then she became the first woman to serve as Solicitor General of the United States.

You go girl!

Of course, it’s also hard to miss that the two women nominated to the Supreme Court have one thing in common — neither one is married or has children. So the obvious question is whether it’s impossible to be ambitious to the extreme and have a family? Sure, the first two women to serve as Supreme Court justices are both mothers, but some are skeptical.

Just ask Mika Brzezinski, the co-anchor of MSNBC’s daily news discussion program “Morning Joe.” In her recent memoir, “All Things at Once” she reveals that she was so overworked and tired that she fell down the stairs with her newborn. The baby broke a femur and went into shock.

“How could I have let myself get so run-down, so exhausted at work that I would fumble over my own feet and fall down a steep flight of stairs with my newborn in my arms?” she writes. As The New York Times Book Review points out, “It’s a question that has no answer, but which is asked, in infinite permutations, by all women who shoulder the triple load of motherhood, career and guilt.”

So, of course, it’s exciting to think about another woman on the bench. We have made so much progress. And yet… and yet…


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