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Women's History Month - Celebrating Notable Women Members of the Legal Profession and Law Makers

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President Biden named Ketanji Brown Jackson, on February 25, 2022 as his appointee. White House Announcement

Judge Jackson was born in Washington, DC and grew up in Miami, Florida. Her parents attended segregated primary schools, then attended historically black colleges and universities. Both started their careers as public school teachers and became leaders and administrators in the Miami-Dade Public School System. When Judge Jackson was in preschool, her father attended law school. In a 2017 lecture, Judge Jackson traced her love of the law back to sitting next to her father in their apartment as he tackled his law school homework—reading cases and preparing for Socratic questioning—while she undertook her preschool homework—coloring books.

Leondra Kruger and Michelle Childs were reportedly also among the top three contenders and are included here for reference related to President Biden's process and possible addition to the Court in the future. The Three Black Women on Biden's Supreme Court Short List

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson received her commission as a United States Circuit Judge in June of 2021. From 2013 until 2021, she served a United States District Judge, and until December of 2014, she also served as a Vice Chair and Commissioner on the United States Sentencing Commission. Prior to her four years of service on the Sentencing Commission, Judge Jackson worked for three years as Of Counsel at Morrison & Foerster LLP, with a practice that focused on criminal and civil appellate litigation in both state and federal courts, as well as cases in the Supreme Court of the United States. Before joining Morrison & Foerster LLP, Judge Jackson served as an Assistant Federal Public Defender in the appeals division of the Office of the Federal Public Defender in the District of Columbia. Before that appointment, Judge Jackson worked as an Assistant Special Counsel at the Sentencing Commission and as an associate with two law firms (one specializing in white-collar criminal defense, and the other focusing on the negotiated settlement of mass-tort claims). Judge Jackson also served as a law clerk to three federal judges: Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer of the Supreme Court of the United States, Judge Bruce M. Selya of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and Judge Patti B. Saris of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. Judge Jackson received a J.D., cum laude, from Harvard Law School in 1996, where she served as a supervising editor of the Harvard Law Review. She received an A.B., magna cum laude, in Government from Harvard-Radcliffe College in 1992.

Immediately before joining the court, Justice Kruger served in the United States Department of Justice as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel.  From 2007 to 2013, she served in the Department as an Assistant to the Solicitor General and as Acting Deputy Solicitor General. During her tenure in the Office of the Solicitor General, she argued 12 cases in the United States Supreme Court on behalf of the federal government. In 2013 and in 2014, she received the Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service, the Department’s highest award for employee performance. Justice Kruger had previously been in private practice, where she specialized in appellate and Supreme Court litigation, and taught as a visiting assistant professor at the University of Chicago Law School. A native of the Los Angeles area, Justice Kruger attended high school in Pasadena. She received her bachelor’s degree with high honors from Harvard College, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She received her J.D. from Yale Law School, where she served as Editor-in-Chief of the Yale Law Journal. Following graduation, she served as a law clerk to Judge David S. Tatel of the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and to Justice John Paul Stevens of the United States Supreme Court.

Childs was born Julianna Michelle Childs in 1966 in Detroit, Michigan. She was raised by a single mother who moved the family to Columbia, South Carolina, after her father died. Childs graduated from the University of South Florida in 1988 with a bachelor’s degree in management. She was named the school’s most outstanding graduate that year. She returned to Columbia to attend the University of South Carolina, where she received a law degree and a business degree in 1991. While in law school, she worked as a law clerk at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, one of the state’s oldest and largest law firms. Childs would later add another degree to her collection as a federal district court judge, picking up a master’s degree in judicial studies from Duke University’s law school in 2016. In December 2009, President Barack Obama nominated Childs to the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina.

Women's History Month 2022

 

Women’s History Month had its origins as a national celebration in 1981 when Congress passed Pub. L. 97-28 which authorized and requested the President to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982 as “Women’s History Week.” Throughout the next five years, Congress continued to pass joint resolutions designating a week in March as “Women’s History Week.” In 1987 after being petitioned by the National Women’s History Project, Congress passed Pub. L. 100-9 which designated the month of March 1987 as “Women’s History Month.” Between 1988 and 1994, Congress passed additional resolutions requesting and authorizing the President to proclaim March of each year as Women’s History Month. Since 1995, presidents have issued a series of annual proclamations designating the month of March as “Women’s History Month.” These proclamations celebrate the contributions women have made to the United States and recognize the specific achievements women have made over the course of American history in a variety of fields.

https://womenshistorymonth.gov/about/

In the years just after the Civil War, as women began joining the legal profession, only a handful of spirited applicants succeeded in breaking through the cultural barriers that made it difficult to train for the law or win bar membership. The law was still the domain of men. Most Americans felt that professional work "unsexed" or degraded women. Female brains, it was thought, were unfit for the strain of mental exercise. The hostility toward women with professional aspirations was so great that only the very brave pushed ahead.

Perhaps the bravest was Belva Lockwood

 

Sandra Day O'Connor - the first woman Justice of the US Supreme Court

Selected Websites about Women's History Month

The National Archives celebrates Women's History Month, recognizing the great contributions that women have made to our nation. Learn about the history of women in the United States by exploring their stories through letters, photographs, film, and other primary sources.

Women's History Month

The month of March celebrates the contributions women have made throughout history in science, politics, law, sports, the arts, entertainment, and many other fields.

Biographies

 

A Proclamation on Women's History Month, 2021 

Each year, Women’s History Month offers an important opportunity for us to shine a light on the extraordinary legacy of trailblazing American women and girls who have built, shaped, and improved upon our Nation. 

Presidential Proclamation

 

Video - History of Women's History Month