1979: The Year Women Changed the Judiciary
In 1979, the number of women serving as federal judges more than doubled. In this series, learn more about the trailblazers who reshaped the Judiciary.
Published onOctober 16, 2019
By her own admission, Carolyn Dineen King, who in 1979 joined an historic class of 23 women jurists, was not committed to being a lawyer when she entered law school in 1959.
Published onOctober 9, 2019
Judge Stephanie Kulp Seymour, who joined a historic class of women judges when she was appointed in 1979 to the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, was encouraged early on by her parents to be an independent thinker.
Published onOctober 2, 2019
District Judge Barbara Brandriff Crabb, of the Western District of Wisconsin, had a potential head start on a legal career. Her uncle, father, and grandfather all had law degrees, and as a child, “my parents taught me I could be anything I wanted to be.”
Published onSeptember 25, 2019
Judge Dorothy Wright Nelson was a legal pioneer long before 1979, when she joined a historic class of women judges who reshaped the federal Judiciary, and she already had an uncanny knack for finding justice in non-confrontive ways.
Published onSeptember 18, 2019
Long before she joined a historic class of women judges in 1979, District Judge Sylvia H. Rambo’s professional future began with a childhood vision. As her school bus drove past Dickinson School of Law in her home town of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, she knew she wanted to be a lawyer.
Published onSeptember 11, 2019
Like many of the 23 women judges who transformed the federal Judiciary in 1979, Susan Harrell Black was encouraged by her father to have professional aspirations—but for a darkly practical reason.
Published onSeptember 4, 2019
Judge Anne Elise Thompson never had specific career goals, and never imagined she would be part of a historic class of women judges appointed to the federal bench in 1979.
Published onAugust 28, 2019
Judge Rya Zobel, of the District of Massachusetts, joined a historic class of 23 women who in 1979 transformed the federal Judiciary. In a group of pioneering women lawyers, her journey to the federal bench was perhaps the most remarkable.
Published onAugust 21, 2019
In 1979, Mary Murphy Schroeder joined a historic class of women judges who transformed the federal Judiciary, but her law career nearly ended before it began. The night before her first final law exam at the University of Chicago, Schroeder collapsed and was hospitalized with a severe kidney infection.
Published onAugust 14, 2019
In 1979, 23 women were appointed to the federal bench—more than doubling the number of women appointed to life-tenured judgeships in the previous 190 year history of the United States. The doors they opened never swung shut again. Forty years later, women make up one-third of the courts’ full-time, active Article III judges.