Saturday, February 6, 2010

Inspiring Role Model On Gender & Age - Justice Mildred Lillie: Nixon Talks to Atty. Gen. John Mitchell About Supreme Court Prospect Mildred Lillie

There are a number of women lawyer and judges who inspire me. Mildred Lillie, who passed away in 2002, was one of them. She was the longest serving jurist in California, taking the bench of the Los Angeles Municipal Court in 1947, when women judges and lawyers were scarce, and going on to serve 55 years as a bench officer, 44 of them as an appellate justice. I had the pleasure of hearing her speak in person and age had not dimmed her wit or enthusiasm for law and life.

Interestingly, at the time she spoke her age was more of an issue than her gender. She spoke of herself as "chronologically gifted" or old. However, she did not let her gender or age stand in her way. She just did it.

I thought of the former Justice Lillie, when I saw this link about Richard Nixon when he was considering appointing her to the Supreme Court. In 1971, only 300 judges out of 8,750 in the U.S. were women. Nixon's choice was rejected by the ABA, however, who said that although Mildred Lillie was the most qualified woman in the country -- she was deemed "unqualified." This meant that no woman jurist was qualified to be a U.S. Supreme Court justice. This let Nixon off the hook.

Here is a link that shows more about Nixon's personality than former Justice Lillie's:

Weekend Series on History: Nixon Talks to Atty. Gen. John Mitchell About Supreme Court Prospect Mildred Lillie

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