Bahai News - Will Nixon Choose a Woman for the Supreme Court? Extracts from Parade magazine, Sunday, January 7, 1972, p. 29

[photo of Dorothy Nelson with Chief Justice Warren Burger]

Will Nixon Choose a Woman for the Supreme Court?

By Ilene Barth

Washington, D. C. Is there a woman qualified for appointment to the Supreme Court should a vacancy occur during President Nixon's second Administration?

Parade spoke with leading law school deans, prominent law association members and experienced judges, and their verdict was a resounding "yes."

"I think it would be very fitting for a woman to be on the Supreme Court," says former justice Tom Clark. "She would bring to the Court a woman's experience with the law which I'm sure would broaden its horizons.

Another former Supreme Court Justice, Arthur Goldberg, concurs. "I think the time is well overdue for a qualified woman to serve on the Court," he says.

There are many who share this sentiment - prominent jurists as well as private citizens. And last time there was an opening, Pat Nixon told reporters that she had been "talking it up" with her husband to appoint the first woman to the high bench.

What are the chances? The President himself has expressed interest in naming a woman, and certainly, the resurgence of woman's rights activities has produced much public support. Moreover, the Court's nine justices have long been in part selected to represent the breadth of the American population.

The pool of qualified women is impressive, but not vast. This reflects, in part, discriminatory attitudes which have made it difficult, if not in some cases impossible, for women to obtain the necessary experience. This means that those women who are today in the qualified pool are indeed, special.

The six women profiled here were all frequently and favorably cited by the jurists Parade canvassed. Each is worthy of consideration by President Nixon, but they also represent a cross-section of the types of legal backgrounds a Supreme Court candidate might be expected to have...

[the other five candidates are omitted here]

Dorothy Nelson. As Dean of the University of Southern California Law School, Mrs. Nelson will certainly come to President Nixon's attention. They already have met - in 1970 - when Dean Nelson served as co-chairman of a panel at the White House Conference on Children.

One of her main interests is judicial reform. She believes that many juvenile and adult offenders become needlessly enmeshed in the legal system, when there should be instead, local family service centers for their treatment. Dean Nelson also insists that all courts should be removed from political influence.

Mrs. Nelson maintains her political independence. "I vote for the man, not the party," she says.

If Mrs. Nelson were to be appointed to the Supreme Court, hers would be a two-judge family. Her husband, James F. Nelson, is a municipal court judge in Los Angeles. The couple met in law school at UCLA, and have two children, Lorna, 10, and Franklin, 13.

While still law students, Dorothy and James Nelson converted from Protestantism to the Bahai faith, an international religion founded last century by Persian prophet, Baha'ullah, meaning "the spleandor of God." Bahais believe in the "oneness of mankind, oneness of religion, and oneness of God." And Mrs. Nelson is active in Bahai affairs.

Associated with the University of Southern California, as a teacher before she became Dean, since receiving her Masters of Law degree there in 1956, she lacks extensive legal experience outside academia. But against this must be balanced her uniqueness as a woman in charge of a major law school.

Is President Nixon likely to choose her? She is, in her own words, a "compromise candidate."


©Copyright 1997, Parade Magazine

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