Law

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Unit 2, Lesson 2 - De facto segregation in the North: Skipwith vs. NYC Board of Education

Investigate the dynamics of segregation in northern schools through a New York City court case ruled on by Judge and Jewish activist Justine Wise Polier.

Elena Kagan's chutzpah (and Jewishness) on display

by  Emily Kadar

Yesterday marked the final day of Solicitor General and Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan’s confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The hearings are regarded by some as a useful tool for gauging a nominee’s judicial philosophy and by others as a farcical display of senatorial bluster and skilled evasiveness.

If Elena Kagan were a man, would we be questioning her sexuality?

by  Leah Berkenwald

It’s common knowledge that Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan is Jewish, and except for some handwringing over the fact that her appointment would mean the Court would be made up entirely of Jews and Catholics, her Jewish identity is a non-issue. Unlike the debates over Justice Sotomayor’s ethnicity, no one is worried that Kagan’s status as a “wise Jewess” will color her judgment. Her sexual orientation, however, is another story.

The Supreme Court and the Single Gal

by  Deborah Kolben

This was originally posted at The Sisterhood

It’s hard not to get excited about the nomination of Elena Kagan to replace Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court. If seated, she would bring the number of women on the Supreme Court to three, the number of Jewish women to two, and the total number of Jews on the bench to three. On paper, Kagan’s a great choice. An Upper West Side girl who went to public school and then off to Princeton and Harvard Law School, where she became the first woman to be named the Dean of the Law School. And then she became the first woman to serve as Solicitor General of the United States.

Mazel tov to Elena Kagan, Supreme Court nominee!

by  Leah Berkenwald

We at the Jewish Women's Archive were thrilled to watch President Obama officially nominate Elena Kagan to the United States Supreme Court. If confirmed, she would be the third woman on the Supreme Court and the fourth woman Supreme Court Justice in American history! She would also join Ruth Bader Ginsburg as the second Jewish woman on the court.

Topics: Law

Justine Wise Polier

An outspoken activist and a "fighting judge," Justine Wise Polier was the first woman Justice in New York. For 38 years she used her position on the Family Court bench to fight for the rights of the poor and disempowered. She strove to implement juvenile justice law as treatment, not punishment, making her court the center of a community network that encompassed psychiatric services, economic aid, teachers, placement agencies, and families.

Bella Abzug

A formidable leader of the women’s movement, Bella Abzug fought to pass the Equal Rights Amendment and other vital legislation for the rights of women. During her three terms in Congress, she advocated for groundbreaking bills including the Equal Rights Amendment and crucial support of Title IX.

A victory in the fight to make hate crimes history!

by  Leah Berkenwald

Yesterday, Oct. 28, 2009, heralded a historic moment for human rights as President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crime Prevention Act into law. This act expands the already existing hate crime protection to include crimes based on one's sexual orientation, gender, disability, or gender identity, and also allows federal authorities to support local investigations, as well as step in when local authorities unable or unwilling to investigate. For the first time in our nation's history, GLBT people and people with disabilities have the legal right to safety from hate violence. 

Topics: Law

Martha Minow appointed Dean of Harvard Law School

July 1, 2009

The President and Fellows of Harvard University appointed Martha Minow, the Jeremiah Smith Jr. Professor of Law at Harvard, Dean of the Law School on July 1, 2009.

Elena Kagan confirmed by U.S. Senate as first woman Solicitor General of the United States

March 19, 2009

On March 19, 2009, the U.S. Senate confirmed Elena Kagan as Solicitor General of the United States. By a 61 to 31 vote, Kagan became the first woman Solicitor General in U.S. history.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg tells it like it is

by  Judith Rosenbaum

If you haven't read it already, check out this excellent NYT interview with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg -- a JWA hero -- by Emily Bazelon (a senior editor at Slate, a founder of their new online women's magazine, Double X, and a serious Jewess with Attitude in her own right).

Topics: Law

Mazel Tov, Martha Minow, New Dean of Harvard Law!

by  Jordan Namerow

Great news! Yesterday, Martha Minow, the Jeremiah Smith Jr. Professor of Law at Harvard, was appointed dean of Harvard Law School. A long-time friend, supporter, and founding board member of the Jewish Women's Archive, and member of the Law School faculty since 1981, Minow is a distinguished legal scholar with interests ranging from international human rights to equality and inequality; from religion and pluralism to managing mass tort litigation; from family law and education law to the privatization of military, schooling, and other governmental activities. She is also a widely admired teacher who chaired the Law School's curricular reform efforts of recent years and was recognized with the School's Sacks-Freund Award for Teaching Excellence in 2005.

Topics: Schools, Teachers, Law

Sotomayor and other "firsts"

by  Judith Rosenbaum

Yesterday morning, as I heard the news that Obama would imminently announce Sonia Sotomayor as his nominee for the Supreme Court, my eyes welled with tears. I thought about the Latino and Latina kids who will grow up knowing that they, too, can serve on the highest bench, and also thought about the older people in the Latino community who undoubtedly feel pride and a sense of communal achievement.

Topics: Civil Service, Law

Deportation of Emma Goldman as a radical "alien"

December 21, 1919

On December 21, 1919, Emma Goldman, along with 248 other radical "aliens," was deported to the Soviet Union on the S.S. Buford under the 1918 Alien Act, which allowed for the expulsion of any alien found to be an anarchist.

Emma Goldman, born in Kovno, Lithuania (then Russia) in 1869, came to the United States in 1885 at age 16.

Bella Abzug elected to Congress

November 3, 1970

On November 3, 1970, Bella Abzug was elected to the United States House of Representatives on a proudly feminist, anti-war, environmentalist platform, becoming th

Battered Immigrant Women Protection Act becomes Law

October 28, 2000

The Battered Immigrant Women Protection Act introduced by Illinois Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky became law on October 28, 2000.

Birth of Judge Jennie Loitman Barron

October 13, 1891

Judge, lawyer, and suffragist, Jennie Loitman Barron, was born on October 13, 1891 in Boston’s West End.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg joins U.S. Supreme Court

August 10, 1993

On June 14, 1993, President Bill Clinton nominated Ruth Bader Ginsburg to be an associate justice on the United States Supreme Court.

First Jewish woman lawyer admitted to Washington state bar

June 6, 1901

Bella Weretnikow, who became the first Jewish woman lawyer in Washington State, was born in Russia in 1880.

Judith Kaye is nominated as Chief Judge of New York State Court

February 22, 1993

When Governor Mario Cuomo nominated Judith Kaye for the position of Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals on February 22, 1993, she beca

Judge Justine Wise Polier retires

February 3, 1973

Building on the legacy of her parents, labor activist and rabbi Stephen Wise and social reformer Louise Waterman Wise, Justine Wise Polier spent four decades on the New York City Family Court working for the rights of children before retiring on February 3, 1973.

Helen Suzman

Helen Suzman was a powerful force in the anti-apartheid movement of South Africa. As one of the few left-leaning members of an oppressive government, she not only used her influence to rally against the apartheid system but also concerned herself personally with those the system affected.

Lillian Laser Strauss

Lillian Laser Strauss performed pioneering work in public health and child welfare in Pennsylvania, became a lawyer at age fifty, and, in the midst of active legal advocacy for public health, died suddenly of a heart attack at age fifty-six.

Spain

Written histories of the Jews in Spain have rarely included women. When dealing with Jewish women in Spain, the available sources range from poems, letters, and rabbinic literature to Latinate wills, court records and Inquisition documents.

Caroline Klein Simon

Attorney Caroline Klein Simon’s long career included state office and judicial posts and lifelong efforts in partisan and nonpartisan politics and Jewish philanthropy.

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