When I learned of Justice Antonin Scalia’s passing, I knew that NAWL had important work ahead. We quickly convened our NAWL Supreme Court Committee to begin the critical work of vetting President Obama’s nominee Judge Merrick Garland. Our Committee was co-chaired by two amazing leaders, JoAnne Epps, Dean of Temple University Beasley School of Law, and Ramona Romero, General Counsel of Princeton University. With a focus on women’s issues, the Committee of law professors, general counsel, law firm lawyers and other prominent attorneys dedicated hundreds of hours to reviewing more than 330 opinions and interviewing colleagues, co-workers and subordinates of Judge Garland. Our Committee concluded that Judge Garland is “well-qualified” for the position of Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court, NAWL’s highest rating. This was yet another example of the way that the women of NAWL come together to accomplish important work, take a stand, and contribute to our legal community.
We did our work. Now we need our senators and our Senate Judiciary Committee to do their work – their constitutionally mandated work—by promptly conducting hearings and voting on the nominee in good faith. The advice and consent process is a pillar of our democracy, not a roadblock to democracy. It should not be a matter of political parties, but rather an honest vetting of the nominee’s qualifications demonstrated by a vote for or against confirmation.
In another exciting area – politics – women are watching a unique set of presidential campaigns. Hopefully, regardless of your party affiliation, you feel a sense of excitement about having a woman leading the delegate count for a major political party. It is stunning that in our nation’s 227-year presidential history we have never even had a woman candidate lead a presidential ticket—and this is already serving as an example to the next generation of women leaders who can now envision themselves on the national stage.
When NAWL held its Mid-Year meeting in San Francisco in March this year, we were honored to have Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson as our keynote speaker and our Public Service Award recipient. Our attendees were riveted by Senator Jackson’s tale of her fight for fair pay for women in California. She said it took many years to bring this law to fruition, but in the end, she had men and women, both Democrats and Republicans together, voting for what everyone knew was right – equal pay regardless of gender. Senator Jackson posed a challenge to us to go back to our firms and corporations and demand that they start defining the terms for equal pay.
As I near the end of my term as President of this remarkable organization, I want to thank each of you, our members, for your hard work, your dedication to the cause of advancing women, and your friendship.