Women in the Judiciary


Constance Baker Motley: Equal Justice Under Law

New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998

"When I was about fifteen, I decided I wanted to be a lawyer. No one thought this was a good idea, and I received no encouragement...I was the kind of person who would not be put down."
-Constance Baker Motley

In her autobiography Equal Justice Under Law, Judge Motley acknowledges the remarkable people who enabled her to go to college and law school at a time when this country was still trying to climb out of the Great Depression. More significantly, it was a time when the number of women in law school was small, and the numbers of black women as law students, even rarer.

"When I got to Columbia Law School I found that the student body included several other women like myself who were determined to become lawyers, notwithstanding the hard-nosed, antiwomen bias in the profession."

Constance Baker Motley applauds the accomplishments of her women classmates: Bella Abzug, elected to Congress; Beatrice Shainswit, New York Supreme Court judge; Charlotte Smallwood Cook, first woman to be elected a district attorney in New York State; Elaine Friedman, Naomi Levine, Gloria Agrin and Judith Vladeck, successful practioners.

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