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Sep. 18 2009 - 5:28 pm | 26 views | 1 recommendation | 2 comments

Googling High-Powered Women: ’sonia sotomayor husband’

It’s a beautiful Friday afternoon in D.C. and instead of going for a run, or kayaking or even sitting on the front stoop with a beer — I found myself googling the Supreme Court justices (I’m a loser).

And this probably wouldn’t have been so interesting, and definitely not made a blog post, if not for Google’s suggest search terms — the feature that automatically suggests a search topic based on what other people around the world are Googling.

Typing in our brand new justice Sonia Sotomayor’s name, gave me this result:

That’s right, what is the top thing people are looking for when they google our newest Supreme Court Justice? Her biography? Her history of jurisprudence? Her favorite baseball team?

Predictably, no.  It seems the top thing on Googler’s minds is if this wise Latina has a husband.

I quickly typed in the name of David Souter — the justice who Sotomayor replaced,  and who also happens to be unmarried. As I suspected, there was no “david souter wife” — just “david souter retirement”; “david souter judicial philosophy” and other like-minded search terms.

A similar search for “sam alito;” “justice john roberts” and “anton scalia” turned up similarly innocuous results. I was thinking that maybe the “sotomayor husband” suggestion was an aberration, but when I next tried “sandra day o’connor” husband again showed up on the list — and while it wasn’t the top hit, it was still in the top ten suggested searches.

Turning my attention to other high-powered women who weren’t married, I got similar results. “Janet Napolitano” yielded “janet napolitano married” and “janet napolitano husband” in the top five suggested searches. The same was true for Condoleezza Rice and the new Solicitor General Elana Kagan.

I’m not going to spend too much time analyzing this, as I think the evidence mostly speaks for itself. There’s lots of news about how women are getting hired in large numbers as partners to law firms, and of course their presence on the courts — all great things to be sure. But it’s important to remember — and maybe that’s what this kind of informal and anonymous aggregator demonstrates- - that hiring decisions and bar admittance rates can’t undo decades of double standards.


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    About Me

    While working at Talking Points Memo Muckraker during the 2008 Election, I covered the Justice Department politicization, voting rights law and the insanity of Alaska politics. I loved the beat which was somewhere between the wonky side of politics and the law. The realization was enough to send me off to law school in D.C. -- which seems to be a perfect combination of both.

    Though I've covered everything from birth control to blenders in my few years in journalism, this blog will be a compilation of stories related to the Supreme Court, federal courts, and the law generally. With an occasional story about Sarah Palin or Ted Stevens thrown in for good measure.

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