The Women of the US Supreme Court

By Ann Varner

Image from Wikimedia Commons

As a newly converted criminal justice major, I have learned more and more about the cases being taken by the US Supreme Court and how important the Supreme Court and its Justices are — such as the federal ruling allowing gay marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges that overturned individual states ban on same sex marriage on June 26, 2015. I decided to find out more about the US Supreme Court and found that only four women have served in the history of the Supreme Court.

The first woman to serve on the US Supreme Court was Sandra Day O’Connor. She was appointed by President Ronald Regan in 1981 and retired in 2006 after serving for 24 years. O’Connor attended Stanford University for her undergraduate and law school, and finished third in her class.

The second woman to be appointed, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, is still serving on the Supreme Court. In 1993 she was appointed by President Bill Clinton, and prior to her appointment, Ginsburg was (and still is) an advocate for women’s rights. She attended Cornell University for her undergraduate and Harvard for law school. During law school, Ginsburg was a mother and a student and only one of eight females in her law class of 500.

The third woman to serve on the Supreme Court and first Hispanic is Sonia Sotomayer, who is still serving. Sotomayer was nominated by President Barak Obama in 2009. She attended Princeton University for her undergraduate and Yale University for law school. Before becoming a Justice she was a high-profile prosecutor in Manhattan, New York and put “some of the most heinous criminals behind bars.”

The fourth and most recent woman to join the Supreme Court is former Solicitor General of the United States, Elena Kagan. President Barak Obama selected Kagan for the role of solicitor who became the first woman to serve in that role. In 2009 she was nomintated by President Obama for Supreme Court Justice. Kagan attended Princeton University for her undergraduate degree, Oxford University for her master’s degree, and Harvard for her law degree.

As someone who hopes to attend law school one day and potentially go into politics, these women are inspiring in every way. To me, the Supreme Court is how to effect change in the most powerful way. These women are amazing in what they’ve accomplished and can continue to accomplish.