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February 8, 2005

Mary M. Schroeder: First woman to occupy Ninth Circuit Chief Judge’s spot speaks

Mary M. Schroeder, the first woman to be named chief judge of  the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, spoke on “Whatever Happened to Diversity?”  at a free public lecture on  February 16 at the Knight Law Center. 
“We have accomplished a great deal in diversity. I don’t think it’s as much a value as it once was,” Schroeder said. “We are not seeing women and minorities rising to the top levels of the legal profession as quickly as I would like.”

Read the February 17 Register-Guard story.
Read the February 10 Eugene Weekly interview.

Schroeder is in the middle of a seven-year term as chief judge of the nation’s largest judicial circuit, covering the western states, Alaska, Hawaii and the Pacific Islands. The Arizona native was appointed to the court in 1979 by President Jimmy Carter. Before that, she served on the Arizona Court of Appeals for four years and was the youngest woman appellate judge in America at the time.

She has been a pathbreaker during her entire career. In the 1960s, she was one of only six women in her law school class at the University of Chicago. In the summers, she was unable to find a position as a law clerk because of her sex. She had endless interviews, but no offers, when she began a search for her first job after her graduation in 1965. She moved to Arizona with her husband at a time when no woman lawyer in that state had ever been employed by a major law firm.  Nonetheless, she became a partner at Lewis and Roca, one of Arizona’s largest firms. While still working as an attorney, she chaired the committee that drafted and secured passage of the state’s first civil rights law.

As a member of the Ninth Circuit Court, Judge Schroeder has established a record as a prolific writer and scholar. Among her noteworthy cases is Hirabayashi v. United States, which held in 1987 that the World War II Japanese internment was unconstitutional. Schroeder wrote in her opinion that the order to remove people of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast “caused needless suffering and shame for thousands of American citizens.”

Schroeder’s visit to the UO is sponsored by the students of the Women’s Law Forum, an organization committed to increasing awareness of women’s issues and promoting equality and fair treatment of women.

Jan. 17, 2005: PBS NEWSHOUR Profiles the Ninth Circuit

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