Women as ‘Way Pavers’ in the Federal Judiciary | United States Courts

It took nearly 140 years after the federal court system was established in 1789 before the first woman sat on a federal bench. Today, about one-third of all active Article III judges are women.

“If the first women judges were here today, they would rejoice at this achievement,” Justice Ginsburg said in a 1995 speech, noting that “their examples made it less difficult for the rest of us to gain appointment or election to the judiciary.” For Justice Ginsburg, these pioneer women judges were “way pavers” — in her words, “brave and bright woman who served as judges with extraordinary devotion and distinction.” In remarks published 20 years ago in the Fordham Law Review, Justice Ginsburg singled out a few of these women judges.

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