This is the first full biography of Justice Leah Ward Sears. In 1992 Sears became the first woman and youngest justice to sit on the Supreme Court of Georgia. In 2005 she became the first African American woman to serve as chief justice of any state supreme court in the country. This book explores her childhood in a career military family; her education; her early work as an attorney; her rise through Georgia's city, county, and state court systems; and her various pursuits after leaving the supreme court in 2009, when she transitioned into a life that was no less active or public.
As the biography recounts Sears's life and career, it is filled with instances of how Sears made her own luck by demonstrating a sharpness of mind and sagacious insight, a capacity for grueling hard work, and a relentless drive to succeed. Sears also maintained a strict devotion to judicial independence and the rule of law, which led to decisions that would surprise conservatives and liberals alike, earned the friendship of figures as diverse as Ambassador Andrew Young and Justice Clarence Thomas, and solidified a reputation that would land her on the short list of replacements for two retiring U.S. Supreme Court justices.
As a woman, an African American, a lawyer, and a judge, Sears has known successes as well as setbacks. Justice Leah Ward Sears shows that despite political targeting, the death of her beloved father, a painful divorce, and a brother's suicide, she has persevered and prevailed.
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